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Techtalk- January 2000

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Dave Moss
checks out two of the latest products he has been sent.

This has been a rather varied month for me. I’ve looked at two products which have some great features that are just wonderfully pleasing. The first product did its job so well I just bought it, so I shall start with that.

SurfSaver (5/5)

Product number one is AskSam’s SurfSaver, a product that is so delightfully simple to use, and so damn useful it just makes me smile. What it does is terribly simple, which is probably why I like it so much. We have a lot in common. SurfSaver simply saves individual Web pages into folders that you create, and then gives you search capabilities when you want to go and locate them again.

If you are researching multiple topics, as I always am, the ability to create folders and then dump whole web pages, complete with their images into them, is just great. No longer will you go back to a site to find that it is off-line, or fret that you can’t get online, because the content you wanted to see will always be to hand. This comes in especially useful when pages get changed, as you can store as many copies of the same page as you like.

SurfSaver lets you add comments, alter the title and add keywords to each page, making it much easier to search for them later on. You can also decide if you want to save graphics with the page (handy when it’s only the text that interests you) and you can share any content you save as well. Go and check it out at http://www.guildsoft.co.uk/, and see what else it can do for you.

Vizact (4/5)

The second tool to fall under my beady eye was Microsoft’s Vizact, a program that basically provides you with a way of creating dynamic documents. What does that mean, I hear you cry? OK, for example, do you have a document with lots of headings, and text underneath each heading? Of course you do.Click to see a larger picture of Vizact

Well, Vizact would let you make those headings interactive, so that as the reader clicks on them, for example, the text associated with each header would appear below it, and then go away when the header was clicked on again. All effects can have timelines added, and you can do some pretty funky stuff. Absolute Positioning is supported, you just drag items to where you want them to be on the page, and that’s that. I was mightily impressed, until I discovered that after doing Insert/Picture, said image would remain just where it was placed, and couldn’t be dragged anywhere, kicking and screaming or otherwise.

I eventually found a way round this however that didn’t involve using a timeline and Vizact’s animation techniques. All you have to do is place a textbox on the page, and then paste the image into the text box. Format the text box so that it has no lines around it, and you can then drag your images to wherever you please.

If you are a Microsoft Office user, you are going to like Vizact. You’ll be comfortable with the interface, and you’ll like what it can do. It might not be the flashest item on the market, but what it does do it seems to do well, even if you do have to do weird things like putting images inside text boxes. Still, what would life be without some mysteries to solve, eh?

Next month one of the items I’ll be looking at will be NetObjects’ Authoring Server 2000, another program that has both excellent, and highly irritating features. Middle of the road would be so boring though, wouldn’t it?

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