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By: Lisa A. Sandford

Abstract: Daily news summary for 22 October 1999. Edited by Lisa A. Sandford.

Realizing the potential in Europe

Despite the fact that Europe is home to more than half of the world's prime Web markets, United States and European Union Internet businesses have failed to capitalize on those European opportunities, according to new research by Jupiter Communications Inc. The findings were presented to attendees of the Jupiter Consumer Online Forum Europe held in London earlier this week.

Jupiter says that US and EU Web enterprises have not aggressively worked to establish high-value relationships with European consumers. Internet access, commerce, and content players are the key elements driving the current low-value, high-volume consumer relationships in the European Web market, according to Jupiter. "The European markets are at a key juncture where fundamental changes in the way access is provided, content is marketed, and goods are sold must occur if the market is to advance," said Evan Neufeld, Jupiter's vice president of international research. In order to  practice truly targeted marketing, Jupiter proposes, Web ventures in Europe need to increase the value of consumer relationships, from acquisition to retention and eventually ownership. 

Jupiter's research also featured rankings for Web sophistication and Internet market potential. Twelve of the 20 spots for sophistication and 10 of the top 20 spots for market potential went to European nations. 

Easier hand holding

Deploying configurable handheld computers for business use in corporations should be easier with the introduction of the TRGpro handheld computer. The computer, from TRG Products Inc., is the first tailorable, enterprise-strong Palm OS handheld that features CompactFlash memory expansion and additional I/O connectivity while retaining the ease-of-use and form factor Palm is known for, according to TRG.

The base configuration of the TRGpro handheld includes 8MB RAM, 2MB Flash Memory, Palm software compatibility, and support for external Palm III and Palm IIIx accessories. Enhancements to the handheld design, TRG says, have removed problems that previously made business use of the small computers difficult. The TRGpro offers corporate IT managers a combined hardware and software system to ease the development and installation of applications, allow for update of those applications from remote locations, and safeguard critical business information. The TRGpro brings the productivity of the Palm platform into the corporate environment, according to TRG Products. 

The new TRGpro handhelds with base configuration will be available from the TRGpro Web site for US$329 by the end of 1999.  

Navigating query terrain

How has the U.S. government's deficit changed from 1960 to 1998? Questions like this require Internet search services to extract specific data from distributed sources, which until the introduction of eNth.com was extremely difficult.

Current Internet search technology can index Web page content, but can't adequately answer many types of questions because its search universe consists only of words stored on Web pages. Search services don't conduct navigations and searches of relational or multi-dimensional data, XML databases, or other structured data.

eNth.com fills the gap with its XML-based query navigation of the Internet, according to its makers. The search engine accepts requests in the form of an XML file consisting of basic concepts, such as "deficit," "1960," and "1998." eNth.com's navigation servers then pass the XML-based requests on to the appropriate data sources on its network. eNth.com locally generates a database query to retrieve the requested information; search results are returned as XML files and HTML tables for use with existing Web pages, operational applications, or e-commerce systems.

Unlike existing Web search engines, eNth.com is able to precisely route requests, therefore increasing the precision of Internet searches, its makers say. In only its third week of operation, the search engine is already handling over 30,000 requests and is supplying information for selected areas of the Ask Jeeves question answer service and the AltaVista search portal, according to eNth.com.

Sharing group information, palm to palm to palm

Communities of handheld users may be interested in a new synchronization service offered by WeSync.com Inc. This beta version of the company's WeSync lets users of handheld devices share what the company calls Interpersonal Information -- via the Web, and right from their devices.

Interpersonal Information includes shared travel schedules, vendor contact lists, employee rosters, family calendars, manufacturing timelines, and other forms of confidential group information. The WeSync service allows the users of Palm Computing organizers to share such info among private, secure, online communities. Groups create their own communities at the WeSync.com Web site. Future versions of the service will include additional data types and a Microsoft Windows CE version.

"Current sync technologies are focused primarily on syncing a single individual's data between various hardware devices," said Pete Grillo, president of WeSync.com Inc. "We believe that there's tremendous value in giving users an easy, automatic way to share important schedules, contact lists and more, right from their devices. We're working to sync people, not data."

Getting embed with Microsoft

With microprocessors appearing in everything from toasters to credit cards, embedded systems is one of the fastest growing areas of the computer industry. Recently Microsoft announced an Embedded Tools Partners program.

Microsoft and the 27 charter members of the program will work to provide embedded system developers with integrated development tools suites for Windows CE and Windows NT Embedded operating systems, as well as Windows-powered smart cards. The 27 partners include such companies as Applied Microsystems Corp., Blue Water Systems Inc., Orion Instruments Inc., and Rogue Wave Software Inc.

According to Microsoft, the tool suites will provide help in areas like hardware debugging, run-time analysis, system-on-chip design, and CASE. In addition to technical assistance and early access to Microsoft software, the focus is to provide developers with a "seamless, end-to-end development environment" by helping the partners to integrate their embedded system tools with Microsoft's development tools.

Expanded horizons

Developers coding for the Irix and Linux systems now have some new toys to play with. KL Group, Inc. has just released JClass 4.0.1. In addition to supporting Irix and Linux, the new release enhances IDE integration with IBM VisualAge for Java 2 and offers JDK 1.1 support in JClass PageLayout.

JClass is a collection of JavaBeans and components including LiveTable, Chart, HiGrid, DataSource, PageLayout, JarMaster, and SwingSuite. The product is available in Standard and Enterprise suites. The standard suite contains Chart, Field, LiveTable, and SwingSuite and sells for US$1,499. The Enterprise edition adds HiGrid, Datasource, and JarMaster and costs US$2,099. Both products include a year of Gold Support.


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