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We've  recently  had  (as of June) two important updates of  two  major  GEM
applications.  These  are  for Aniplayer,  now at version 2.22,  and the web
browser Highwire, now going all the way to v2.0.

..Aniplayer v2.22..
Firstly  we  look at Aniplayer.  This is the brainchild and ongoing work  in
progress  of Didier Mequignon,  also well known to CT60 fans as the man  who
coded the firmware for the CT60,  and things like the CT60 config CPX,  with
that famous temperature gauge for it. As a result of Didier's extensive work
and dedication to making the CT60 run properly,  Aniplayer has languished in
the  shadows  without  a  fresh update from v2.21  for  over  a  year.  More
recently,  he did say that the CT60 firmware, was more or less complete, and
that he would return to Aniplayer shortly.

This he did,  with a surprisingly quick turnaround of v2.22, mere days after
making  that announcement.  It looks like Didier has been quietly adding  to
Aniplayer in his spare coding time over the previous year, as there has been
a lot of work done in key areas.

One  major  improvement is immediately noticeable,  Sorenson compression  in
animation files is now recognised.  This opens up a larger range of .avi and
.mov files in particular that are now viewable which weren't previously. The
Mp4  Quicktime standard is apparently readable,  more work has been done  on
the Ogg Vorbis decoder which I can confirm does work within the capabilities
of  the  '060.  The  Mp3 sound libraries and Lame Mp3 encoder  are  now  re-
included, which brings us to the most important news of all, Aniplayer is no
longer  shareware.  It has gone to Freeware status which will be welcome  to
many  people,  but any spontaneous cash contributions that you might like to
make  to  Didier,  to  show appreciation for all of his hard  work  will  be
welcomed by him I'm sure.

Other  improvements include more work on the MPEG side,  with different ways
of  displaying movies added.  New screen modes for 'without gem' playback on
CT60  have been added,  these are 640x480 Trucecolour for the 'with solders'
fitted  CT60  running  a 50mhz bus,  and 640x400 Truecolour  for  the  40mhz
boosted bus.

Also there is an issue that will be addressed in future versions of  killing
off delays in the soundtracks of these,  when the sound goes via the DSP. As
far  as I can tell,  on a CT60 spec machine,  it should be possible to get a
decent  looking  playback of low to medium resolution Mpeg movies  with  the
soundtrack  taken  care of via the DSP,  and with a minimal overhead on  the

Aniplayer is increasingly being optimised around the CT60 as the  'standard'
platform,  to  gain  access  to all the more intensive  formats.  There  are
libraries  which you can set up for it to make better use of  MagicMac,  and
Aniplayer  does  work well with higher spec emulators such as  Aranym.  (One
benchmark,  not particularly recent for this, quotes a DivX movie playing at
around  75% of cpu time there,  with a version of Aranym using JIT  routines
for the native cpu.)

(A little tip for improving playback speeds,  which seems to work a treat on
my  CT60.  256  colour  mode is the slowest or most cpu  intensive  of  all.
Truecolour is marginally quicker,  but you can get some major playback speed
gains by dropping down to lower colour modes.  Sixteen and four colour modes
both show gains,  and the best of all comes from dropping to ST-mono,  which
practically halved the cpu load in one case.  That is, if you don't mind too
much how this stuff looks in such a low colour mode!)

Aniplayer  is  that most amazing thing in this day and age,  an  application
which is still being developed, and which has such a wide range of uses from
simple  jpeg  viewing,  through  to  most current movie  formats.  Long  may
Didier's dedication to this must-have app continue.

..Highwire v2.0..
You've  all  heard me bang on about when I met Rob Goldsmith for  the  first
time  at the 2000 Stafford ACC,  where he showed me his first prototype code
for  Highwire.  You've  heard it more than once I should think.  Rob had big
dreams  for  Highwire,  of making it into a fully featured  modern  browser,
better  than Cab.  I also remember thinking that he may well have something,
but  this  was probably going to be yet another  over-ambitious  dream  that
would turn to dust.

Rob did have a good idea for long-term survival, which was to throw open the
project,  and  get other willing parties to join in,  and eventually take it
over.  The  main  part of the coding grind in the latter versions,  fell  to
another  of  those  Didier-like dedicated individuals,  AltF4,  who has  now
managed  to  get  Highwire to a state where we can safely say  that  we  are
almost there.

The  previous release version was 1.7.  We have neatly bypassed versions 1.8
and 1.9,  as this latest version is deemed to be such a major improvement on
what came before.

So  what  is  new?  The long awaited ability to process text  in  forms  has
arrived.  We can Google with Highwire at last!  Also we can add our thoughts
on how cool this is or what,  to forums like the DHS Bulletin boards, or the
Atari  Forums.  There  is still the important feature of cookie storage  and
recognition  to  come,  so some places still won't let you in yet,  (the  BT
Yahoo  email  front  door for example),  but this is a  good  step  forward.
Another  useful  feature  gained,  is the ability for HighWire  to  properly
handle  downloaded  'warez',  as  it can now save these to a place  of  your
choosing. We are now at a stage where we can effectively replace Cab for 95-
98% of our normal internet useage, where before it would have been something
like 75-80%.

There is also the handy feature of being able to grab a webpage URL,  and to
paste it to the sister application of your choice, whether that is an email,
or live on IRC when you feel like urgently informing Felice of the  fabulous
""!  Of  course,  the  usual array of bug-fixes get  their
names added too.

Also new to this distribution is a nice little extra.  For the first time, a
dedicated  'STing'  OVL  module has been added.  Not that the STiK  OVL  was
giving me any problems before, but it is nice to have something more closely
tailored to your own particular internet connection software.

Well that is the good news out of the way, and it has been great. Now as far
as I can see, there are still a number of features left to add. I anticipate
these falling into place fairly quickly.

On the still to do list;

Display:-Imagemap  recognition,  some  pages,  such as  ''
navigate  with  these.  Also  animated  gif files to be made  to  work,  and
background wallpaper image file displaying would be handy.

Functionality:-There is Cookie recognition still to come.  (To be fair  to
AltF4,  I'm  sure this is the next major add-on forthcoming.) One area where
Cab  is  still indispensable at the moment,  is in the area of  third  party
clients being called from the browser.  Straightaway, I can thing of Falcamp
for that cool Nectarine radio sound! Not to mention things like emailers and
music  players.  There  is also Javascript,  which really will take HighWire
beyond  Cab,  which  hinted at this in their abandoned v3.0 from many  years
ago. Also a proper hotlist or 'favourites' feature would be nice.

Anyway,  with version 2.0, we can safely conclude that we are nearer the end
of the process, than the beginning.

CiH for Alive Mag,June '04

update time!

What has happened since June?

Oh dear,  time  never  stands  still  in  the crazy fast world  of  Highwire
development.  Since  we  got  the  rather  groundbreaking v2.0, no less than
*three* further new versions of Highwire have slipped out from under AltF4's
coding fingers!

Lots and lots of things have been added,  most  of  them internal and hidden
away from general view,  but invaluable for smoother functioning of the main
shell. The two major additions from v2.0, are that Cookies are enabled (from
v2.1),  and we've  finally got  imagemap support (v2.3).  As a little extra,
which  even AltF4 wasn't aware of,  is that Highwire now displays plain text
ASCII art correctly, which it never quite did before.

If anything,  the work-rate of AltF4  seems to be speeding up,  as there was
only a  month  between  v2.2 and v2.3,  hardly any time  to  get used to the
earlier version! Yet again, applications coders put demo-makers to shame!

Update - Dec '04

Alive 9