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By: Bob Arnson
Abstract: Daily news summary for 13 October 1999. Edited by Bob Arnson.
I don't know about you, but when I find a good butler, I do what I can to
keep him around. Good servants are so hard to find -- worse than any alleged IT
staffing shortage. Jeeves, of Ask Jeeves, Inc. and the Ask.com
question-answering Web site, is certainly keeping busy. The Ask
Jeeves Corporate Question Answering Service lets you apply the Ask Jeeves
natural-language technology to your own Web sites. Such natural language
technology makes it possible, for example, for users to get automated customer
service or technical support using a more natural question-and-answer format.
Two companies have recently announced the licensing of the Ask Jeeves
technology for high-profile uses. The first is Microsoft, which uses Ask Jeeves
Corporate Service for the "Ask
a Question About Windows 98" feature on its Personal
Online Support Web site. Questions are answered by organized lists of links
to various support and Knowledge Base articles on Microsoft's Web sites.
Microsoft even offers the "Take a peek at what customers are asking me
right now!" in case you're concerned that your personal tech support
problem isn't popular enough.
Ask Jeeves has also released its Shopping Advisor, which recommends products
based on user preferences rather than product features. The first e-commerce
site to take advantage of Shopping Advisor is etown.com,
with its Shop with IDA service. As the holiday shopping season is destined to
soon have gaudy Santa Clauses in every mall in the United States, take advantage
of Ask Jeeves's expertise and shop online.
Spyrus has released DeviceSSL, a toolkit used to create secure systems
applications for embedded platforms. Developers can use the product to build
thin SSL clients and servers for a range of computing devices, including
personal data assistants, mobile phones, set-top boxes and network routers.
DeviceSSL emerged in response to the demand for products that extend the
Internet beyond the PC, says Spyrus. DeviceSSL provides a solution to the need
for increased security that comes with these new device capabilities. The
product is designed to conserve system resources such as the CPU, persistent
storage and memory. It operates without the use of hard drives and traditional
"We have been working with our customers to develop DeviceSSL in
response to their specific needs," said Sue Pontius, CEO of Spyrus.
"As a result, we have been able to respond to the needs of the emerging
device market and build a product that allows developers to easily include
security features in their embedded system products."
DeviceSSL is available immediately. The developer kit is available for US$95.
For more information, please visit www.spyrus.com.
Developers who access remote data may be able to boost the
performance of client/server applications, says DataPackage. The company's
DataPackage XML Client/Server Edition, an XML-based optimization tool, makes it
easy to cut the number of calls made to remote servers -- the most common cause of
slow performance in a client/server application. The powerful in-memory
database engine runs on any Windows client, accessing data speedily and
presenting it in multiple ways.
DataPackage calls attention to several key features of the tool: its object
model is similar to Microsoft ADO and DAO; it reads and writes industry
standard XML 1.0 files; it is a single-user database engine (no drivers, small
footprint, runs on any 32 bit Windows workstation); it allows users to customize
presentation of their data without physically altering the actual data or
schema; all data types are supported, including binary data and disk-based
files; and unlimited numbers of recordsets and other data can all be combined in
a single file.
On-site training is available with this product, as well as on- or offsite consulting. A free
evaluation copy of DataPackage XML can be downloaded from their Web
Common Web development problems could become a thing of the past with Active
Page Generator (APGen) from WebGecko Software LLC. Complementing Microsoft's
Active Server Pages and Visual Studio, APGen lets developers generate Web
content within any component or application using familiar tools such as
VBScript, JScript and COM.
Use APGen to write a series of APG scripts; then use standard programming
"encapsulation" and "reuse" to automate the construction and
maintenance of your site. For better scaling, APGen helps by separating your
content generation into two parts: the APG execution phase -- before the http
request -- and the http request phase itself. Less work is performed by the http
request, as some of the content is produced during the APG phase. This also
results in a faster site.
APGen allows for COM to XML conversion. It improves performance by avoiding
repetitive content generation on the Web server. APGen can also generate static
Web pages from COM accessible data. Static pages can then be viewed without a
Web server, resulting in Web sites that can be published to a compact disc, a
laptop, or download for demonstration purposes.
APGen can be downloaded for a 30-day free trial at www.webgecko.com.
It retails for US$595 per license.
Now e-commerce companies have a new tool for analyzing their Web-based
developed by net.Genesis of
Cambridge, MA., gives Web market analysts over 30 automated reports that supply
information about online visitor patterns. CartSmarts, an enhancement module to
net.Genesis's net.Analysis solution, identifies customer buying habits, promotional
responses, prospective, repeat and first-time buyers. CartSmarts enables
e-businesses to focus sales and marketing efforts more efficiently, helping to
increase product and advertising revenues.
Haled as Best in Show at Internet World '99, net.Genesis was honored for its
innovative use of technology and selected for product leadership in the Web site
software category. President and CEO of net.Genesis, Larry Bohn states
"We will continue to innovate and enable online retailers to better understand,
target and personalize their e-commerce programs. CartSmarts turns browsers into
buyers and gives market leading companies a competitive advantage in the
burgeoning e-commerce market."
If getting dressed in the morning starts with your unmentionables and ends
with clipping and strapping on various electronic gadgets
like a Palm organizer, a cell phone, and a pager, you might appreciate a new
service to be offered in a few months by Puma
promises a free Internet-based synchronization service for all your portable and
not-so-portable devices, from desktop PCs to notebook PCs to Palm organizers to
capable cellular phones.
"We plan to license the highly scaleable synchronization technology and
the universal device and database connectivity underlying Intellisync.com,"
said Bradley A. Rowe, president and CEO of Puma. Several other companies have
announced support for Intellisync.com, including Critical Path, Send.com,
TimeDance, Portera, and eCal Corp.
If you're interested in Intellisync.com's technology, you might want to head
to Santa Clara, Cal. next Monday for Puma
Technology Developer Conference '99.
Intellisync.com isn't yet available -- look for it in the first quarter of
2000 -- but you can sign
up for the free service now.
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