Apple introduces text retrieval systemApple Computer Inc...



Apple introduces text retrieval system

Apple Computer Inc. last week introduced its AppleSearch software package, the full-text retrieval system based on the core program it licensed from Personal Library Software of Rockville.

The client/server combination is designed to run on high-end machines such as Quadras or Workgroup Servers on a network.

AppleSearch product manager Susan Gladwin says Apple made few changes to the basic search engine, known as Callable Personal Librarian. But it tailored the user interface to make it easy to use on the Mac.

To add text to the data base, she said, users simply drop a document into a designated folder. Translators from DataViz Inc. extract the text from many different document formats, and indexing takes place automatically at set intervals.

You can set up a search agent, called a "Reporter," that combs through the data base once or at scheduled intervals and tries to rank its results by relevance.

"One of the things we really like about [Personal Library Software] is their natural language support. They really pioneered that," Ms. Gladwin said.

Apple is selling the software in two packages, one with the server program and five client, or searching, programs, and the other with 10 client packages. The list prices are $1,799 for the server package and $499 for the 10 clients.

Sylvan training to be sold in stores

Columbia-based Sylvan Kee Systems Inc. announced an agreement last week under which Inacom Corp. will market Sylvan's computer training in most of its 1,200 personal computer outlets nationwide.

Sylvan has more than 500 instructional centers, with more than 100 operating as Sylvan Technology Centers. The centers hold classes, generally lasting a full day, on PC fundamentals and on several of the more popular software packages.

Under the new agreement, customers in Inacom's stores will be able to register on the spot for a class at a nearby Sylvan center. Fees for most of the classes are under $100.

Inacom currently operates stores under the Inacomp and Valcom names. According to Marc Waldeck, Sylvan Technology Centers' sales and marketing director, those stores are now being consolidated under the Inacom name.

Microsoft sneak peek wows Loyola crowd

Mike Appe, Microsoft Corp.'s vice president for U.S. sales, stirred interest at Loyola College Wednesday when he demonstrated the forthcoming versions of Word for Windows and Excel.

Mr. Appe, who spoke on Microsoft's vision of where the industry is going, took a moment to show off features such as IntelliSense, which can pop up hints based on the program's "understanding" of what a user is trying to do.

That brought a good reaction from the crowd, as did the ability to drag an Excel bar graph across the screen and drop it into a report created in Word.

But the most vocal reaction came during a demonstration of the Dinosaurs CD-ROM. Just as an animated dinosaur closed in on its kill, an aide clicked the window shut.

"Awwwwww," moaned the crowd.

"Come by to our booth and you can see how it ends," Mr. Appe teased.

New alliance takes aim at Microsoft

The latest computer industry alliance, announced last week at a Windows conference in California, has the feel of an opening salvo aimed at Microsoft by Apple and IBM Corp.

The two personal computer giants, along with their joint venture, Taligent, announced that four other industry leaders would join them in a nonprofit group that seeks to achieve "plug-and-play" software compatibility across multiple lines of computers.

Component Integration Laboratories, based in San Francisco, has the stated goal of encouraging software development that focuses on documents rather than applications.

The idea is that key chunks of software will fit together like components in a stereo system, so that, for example, programs from three different companies might be used at the same time for a document that holds text, graphics and voice annotation.

CIL will establish specifications and certify developers' work to be sure that all the pieces work together. According to Jed Harris, Apple's manager of Component Software Alliance Strategy, "It opens the door for developers to create profitable market niches while decreasing investment risks." That's because a company would not have to write its own software components, such as text editors, that are used in many applications.

While the announcement talks of integrating data under Windows, OS/2, Macintosh and UNIX, the descriptions of the goals and benefits sound a lot like those touted for the operating system -- code-named Pink -- being developed by Taligent as a counter to Microsoft's Windows.

And of the CIL partners -- Novell Inc., Oracle Corp., WordPerfect Corp. and Xerox Corp. -- all but Xerox have products that compete directly with software in Microsoft's line.

Although the troops are being moved into position, it likely won't be until the start of 1995 before we learn whether PCs are prettier in Pink.

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