Most of us automatically call one of the door-to-door services like United Parcel Service, Federal Express, RPS, and their competitors. These “integrated carriers,” which own and/or operate their own vehicles and aircraft, often are the right ones for the job. But there are other types of expedited services that sometimes are more suitable and more economical.
One option is to use door-to-door courier services. These companies may be local, regional, national, or even international in scope. They operate the local ground portion of a move and contract out with scheduled airlines or other carriers for the long haul. Expedited trucking services, meanwhile, often are the right choice for large shipments. A number of overnight options are available, and some carriers even offer same-day delivery within a certain geographic range.
A third option – and the one on which this article will focus – is to use the scheduled airlines. All of the major U.S. and Canadian airlines offer some kind of expedited package and cargo services. These services “piggyback” on the scheduled passenger flights, using available belly space to move shipments quickly and cost-effectively. Some provide same-day service, while others are “next-flight” services that may deliver the shipment or package that same day or the following day.
Pick Your Flight
The scheduled airlines play a dual role when it comes to offering domestic and cross-border transportation services, functioning both as retailer and wholesaler. They “wholesale” their space to air-freight forwarders, which in turn sell that space to individual shippers. But they also “retail” directly to shippers for certain types of products.
Same-day/next-flight service is one such retail offering. Although they may differ in the details, most same-day services share some common characteristics. They are airport-to-airport services, so shippers and consignees are responsible for delivering the shipment to the airline and picking it up at destination. (Most airlines also offer door-to-door pickup and delivery with advance notice and at an extra charge.) Some airlines have separate offices or counters for their expedited services, while others handle them at their ticket counters or aircargo facilities.
Same-day and next-flight services usually are flight-specific, and most airlines will refund all or part of the freight charges if a shipment does not move on the flight selected. They offer short cut-ofttimes at the point of origin – sometimes as little as 30 minutes before a flight departs – providing an option for last-minute or emergency shipments.
Shipments also are quickly available for pickup at destination. It’s important to note that for international services, the airlines may only deliver import documents to the consignee within the specified time limit. Although the cargo itself may physically be available at the same time, the airlines may not release the freight until the consignee clears the shipment through customs.
Because these services are so time-sensitive, the airlines must place some restrictions on the products being shipped. Many, for example, will not accept individual packages weighing more than 70 pounds or measuring more than 90 inches (length x width x height). Depending on the airline, the aircraft, and the facilities at origin and destination, there also may be restrictions on carrying hazardous cargo, perishable products, and live animals.
Same-day services are appropriate for a wide variety of products. Among the airlines’ regular customers for expedited services are publishers and printers (which ship proof plates and time-sensitive newspapers and magazines); medical-supply distributors (drugs and specialized medications); medical testing facilities (perishable samples and specimens); television and movie producers (film); hospitals and blood banks (organ transplants, blood); the legal profession (depositions, evidence); and banks (canceled checks).
Many of these and other products move via same-day services because of their short shelf life. Companies that depend on Just-in-Time manufacturing processes also are heavy users of expedited airline services, says Richard L. Denhart, director of priority products for American Airlines. The auto makers, for example, all depend on suppliers to deliver exactly one day’s worth of parts each day. If parts aren’t delivered on time or if they come in but prove to be faulty, the manufacturer must receive replacements that same day, he explains. “If they don’t have them, that will result in a shutdown…and that can cost $120,000 an hour or more.”
Weighing the Costs
There are many factors shippers should consider when deciding whether to use an airline or a competing expedited service. Cost is one component, of course. Because the express products “piggyback” on passenger flights, the airlines’ costs are fairly low. As a result, pricing can be quite reasonable. Many airlines charge a flat rate for packages of a certain weight. US Airways, for example, charges $62 for packages up to 50 pounds, $83 for packages weighing between 51 and 70 pounds, and $115 for shipments that weight from 71 to 100 pounds.
For shipments that include more than one package, though, it will be less expensive to use a service that is priced on a per-pound or per-kilo basis than one with per-package rates, advises Zodie Cristakos, manager of cargo marketing for Southwest Airlines. Southwest Airlines and Air Canada, for example, both charge on an aggregate weight basis.
Although “walk-in” prices are reasonable, airlines will negotiate rates for regular customers, says Denhart. Companies such as printers that regularly move large volumes often can work out better pricing, he notes.
Because many times shippers are comparing the airlines’ services to door-to-door services offered by couriers and integrated carriers, it’s important to examine total cost, including local pickup and delivery and time spent on managing the move. “You have to decide how involved you want to get in this process,” Denhart says. “If you already have internal infrastructure like a private fleet or messengers, then it can be better to go directly to the airline.” Shippers that don’t have those kinds of resources, however, may find it more economical to work with a freight forwarder, courier, or integrated carrier, he says.
One of the airlines’ strongest selling points for express service is flight frequency, says Tony LeFebvre, express product manager for US Airways. US Airways, for example, has flights leaving every hour between Washington, D.C., and Boston or New York. Southwest Air, meanwhile, offers 38 flights per day between Dallas and Houston, and American Airlines flies more than 20 times daily between Dallas and Chicago. “[The integrators] can’t match our frequency,” he notes.
With the airlines, shippers also know the exact arrival time (barring weather or air-traffic delays, of course). For critical parts or perishable products, that’s of vital importance. “[Our customers] don’t want to know that it will be there sometime tonight. They need to know that it’s on a specific flight and that it will arrive at a specific time,” says Dave Hinderland, national accounts manager for Southwest Airlines.
With emergency or time-sensitive shipments, control also can be an important issue, says Jim Fisher, Air Canada’s manager, customer service-cargo for the United States. Air Canada, for example, has dedicated personnel meet flights and run documents and packages to express offices or counters. Although the integrated carriers conveniently include customs clearance in their price, there are times when it’s better to do it yourself, Fisher believes. “If shippers use their own customs brokers, they have more influence over how things are handled. The brokers are right at the airport and they can run documents over to customs immediately,” he adds.
What’s Right for You?
Though the airlines’ services offer many benefits, choosing the best option for same-day, next-flight, and other expedited services isn’t easy. Couriers, freight forwarders, and integrated carriers all offer competing services that may be more appropriate for some shippers.
In fact, those companies also rely on the scheduled carriers, putting airlines in the uncomfortable position of competing with their own customers. The airline executives interviewed for this story all emphasized that they considered those companies to be their partners and that each group was trying to meet different needs. “Because we fly during daylight hours, the airlines will always control [the same-day] market,” says Denhart of American Airlines. “But the forwarders, couriers, and integrators are our customers, too, and we will never change that relationship.”
What choice the shipper makes depends on time constraints, the level of service needed, and the total cost. Shippers also must consider the cost of not using an expedited service, as in the case of the auto maker faced with a plant shutdown when parts don’t arrive on time. Finally, the carriers say, shippers that regularly require same-day and next-flight service should look at how best to take advantage of what can be a tough situation. Says Denhart: “The creative companies can take it from being an emergency situation to being an enhancement of their product.”]]>
Snoring and sleep apnea are two separate conditions. Occasional snoring is a nuisance and can lead to increased risk of heart disease as well, however chronic snoring or sleep apnea is a deadly condition that deprives the body of necessary levels of oxygen.
Chronic snoring is often diagnosed as sleep apnea, a condition that does much more than interrupt sleep. When someone snores, they are taking in less air, and so less oxygen, than someone who does not snore. With less oxygen being taken into the lungs, the body is unable to function as well as someone who does not snore, and therefore has a higher oxygen intake during sleep. Oxygen is taken in by red blood cells and pumped through the body by the heart, which is strengthened by higher levels of oxygen. When oxygen intake is low, the heart is unable to work as efficiently and it struggles. This leads to dozens of other problems that affect the body and its function.
When the heart is forced to work harder because of a lack of oxygen, the snorer’s blood pressure becomes elevated. As the snorer essentially struggles to breathe throughout the night, blood pressure soars and arteries become clogged. Abnormal blood pressure leads to stroke as blood vessels in the brain are eventually weakened as well as the formation of blood clots. Blood clots can cause an aneurism or stroke, both of which can be fatal or have irreparable consequences. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is virtually symptomless and difficult to detect without a blood pressure test. This is a cardiovascular issue, common to those with chronic snoring or sleep apnea, and eventually leads to heart attack.
Snoring can be dealt with, however, using anti snoring mouthpieces, like those discussed here.
Stroke caused from an increase in plaque in the throat, or carotid atherosclerosis, is another repercussion of chronic snoring. As you snore, the arteries in the neck become thinner and thinner, allowing for greater plaque build-up which leads to stroke. A stroke cuts off the brain’s blood supply, causing damage, sometimes irreparable or even fatal. Additionally, a snorer can suffer from arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat that can cause further problems. A regular heartbeat ensures that the heart is pumping blood easily and efficiently. When breathing is repeatedly interrupted throughout the night, the heart receives less oxygen and is unable to beat in a regular rhythm. This also eventually leads to heart disease which accounts for millions of deaths every year.
Aside from the negatives effects of lack of oxygen to the body, snorers can suffer from a multitude of other disorders such as GERD. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is common in people with chronic snoring because snoring can lead to pressure changes in the esophagus, which can bring the stomach contents up into the throat. This causes a burning sensation, nausea and vomiting, causing more discomfort than the snoring itself.
Other repercussions include mental health issues, daytime dysfunction, fatigue, and weight gain sometimes leading to obesity. Snoring has even been linked to the development of type II diabetes which is also linked to obesity. Obesity is a common factor to heart disease as well and is also common to snorers.]]>
The only significant weakness in WebTrends Corp.’s software is that it doesn’t wield nearly as much power over NetWare and Unix servers as it does over Windows NT and Windows 9x machines, thus limiting it to Windows-centric shops. In PC Week Labs’ tests, for example, WebTrends Security Analyzer identified only seven minor problems on a Solaris server with known security risks. In contrast, Internet Security Systems Inc.’s Internet Scanner 5.6, a capable competitor in the security scanner arena, works well with a variety of Unix and NetWare servers in addition to NT systems.
Except for its operating system limitations, WebTrends Security Analyzer 2.0 the first release of the product despite its version number is a great choice for “agentless” detection of vulnerabilities on Windows NT servers and networks. Its biggest strength is that it comes with an SDK (software development kit) that network managers can use to create their own audits, and the software also can easily download new audits from WebTrends’ Web site.
Network managers with no security system in place should evaluate WebTrends Security Analyzer. At $4,999 for the enterprise edition, which shipped in late January and includes an unlimited number of IP addresses across an unlimited number of subnets, it competes favorably with ISS’ Internet Scanner, which costs $4,995 for a 254-node license.
Even managers already using an intrusion detection system should consider WebTrends’ security scanner. During tests, we quickly identified more than 15 serious security exposures on a 60-system NT test network some that we expected to find, and more than a couple that we didn’t.
WebTrends’ preconfigured tests, which it calls “policies,” proved more than adequate. For example, WebTrends Security Analyzer found 87 potential security problems on the 60-machine testbed, ranging from blank passwords a bad Labs habit! to Distributed Component Object Module configurations that opened us up to attack. ISS’ Internet Scanner found 124 security exposures, mostly minor variations of those identified by the WebTrends product.
WebTrends’ audit gave us an extensive report on the problems it found, ranking them by severity. The report also provided either a clear, step-by-step procedure for fixing a problem or an explanation of the weakness; the latter often includes a URL for a site where a remedy can be found.
The SDK in WebTrends Security Analyzer puts it ahead of rivals such as Internet Scanner and Netect Inc.’s HackerShield 1.0 for network managers who want to tailor audits to match their sites. All other products we’ve tested rely on the vendor to come out with new tests to audit servers and networks for weaknesses.
The arrival of WebTrends Security Analyzer also means that HackerShield is no longer the only security analysis product to supply additional tests over the Web. The AutoSync facility in WebTrends’ scanner let us easily update the program as soon as it was installed. A year’s subscription to WebTrends’ test update service is $999.
WebTrends Security Analyzer’s intuitive interface is an easy entry into the product. It was simple to set up security audits that ran a variety of policies against specific IP addresses. It was equally easy to schedule audits to run outside work hours, something we did because each scan could take as long as 5 minutes per machine to complete, the same as other products we’ve tested. We could also tune each policy to perform either a complete or a light-duty security scan, port analysis or ping test.
WebTrends Security Analyzer, like other security scanners, does all its processing on one server without using agents on the target machines. This nearly eliminates the performance impact on any machine being scanned.
Executive Summary: WebTrends Security Analyzer 2.0
WebTrends’ security scanner is a good place to start for managers looking to secure their networks. The competitively priced WebTrends Security Analyzer also nicely complements intrusion detection systems already in place by revealing obvious security holes as long as the machines it is scanning are Windows systems.
Pros: SDK lets managers build security audits tailored to their sites’ needs; allows simple, automatic download of new tests from WebTrends’ Web site.
Cons: Little facility for finding vulnerabilities on Unix and NetWare servers.]]>
This high degree of integration is especially useful in the manufacture of high-volume products. Items such as cellular and cordless telephones, and wireless LAN equipment benefit from the technology because their product development costs can be spread over hundreds of thousands of units. For instance, Texas Instrument’s TMS320C54x line of DSP ICs have an architecture that has been optimized specifically for use in the baseband sections of wireless terminals and base stations. These low-power (35-100 roW) DSP ICs feature 50 MIPS of processing power. Some also have a hard-wired Viterbi decoding accelerator that reduces a Viterbi “butterfly update” to only four instruction cycles. This addition greatly simplifies channel decoding for applications like GSM handsets and base stations.
Wireless data also is moving into the mainstream, allowing many manufacturers to offer highly integrated solutions. One good example is the SX045 spread-spectrum transceiver, which is offered by American Microsystems Inc., Pocatello, Idaho. Intended for use in wireless LANs which follow the IEEE 802.11 specification, the SX045 contains all the baseband circuitry required for direct sequence spread-spectrum (DSSS) radio. In addition, it performs all radio-control and data-transfer functions of the physical-layer convergence procedure and handles the handshake logic to the physical layer transceiver. A low-cost microcontroller to run the media-access control protocol, a relatively straight-forward modulator/demodulator, and transmitter section are all that’s required for a complete DSSS system.
Above baseband, the move toward integration has been slower, but making substantial advances in the past few years. Achieving integrated RF is not simply a matter of sticking a bunch of fast transistors on a single chip. Some means of matching the impedance between internal elements must still be used. On-chip parasitic effects must be minimized, lest they provide unwanted coupling between different portions of a circuit.
Trench isolation of transistors and careful use of multiple metal layers are only two of the many techniques used to keep crosstalk-induced noise from ruining a chip’s RF performance. Additionally, on-chip passive components are becoming increasingly common on both silicon and GaAs devices. These tiny inductors, capacitors, and resistors are used both for coupling internal devices and for compensating for packaging-induced parasitics on the chip’s inputs and outputs. The same input and output matching networks also are used to raise the RF devices’ impedance to about 50 [ohms], making them less tricky to use.
Integration has done much more than cut the parts count in RF devices. Wireless products using RF ICs often enjoy greatly reduced design times, require much less “tweaking” during unit assembly and testing, and have fewer manufacturing tolerance-induced quality control problems. Both the TQ9143, an integrated 1.4-W, AMPS/TDMA power amplifier from TriQuint Semiconductor, Beaverton, Ore., and the AWT0904, a 35-dBm, GSM/AMPS cellular-band amplifier from Anadigics, Warren, N.J., employ these advanced fabrication techniques. Their on-chip bias and matching networks, and voltage converters significantly reduce the production costs and engineering effort required to produce wireless designs (see Electronic Design, June 24, 1996, p. 87.
Other high-volume applications have led to the development of mixed-signal chips with high levels of digital and analog integration. Functions such as divider networks and control logic can be fabricated on the same chip as voltage-controlled oscillator (VCOs), PLLs, mixers, and even amplifiers. This technique is somewhat easier in the lower-frequency ranges, such as the 49-MHz band used for CB radios, remote-control toys, and cordless telephones.
Motorola Semiconductor, Phoenix, Ariz., is one of the leaders in this area, producing extremely cost-effective chip sets for the very competitive cordless telephone market. One of their latest entries is the MC13110 RF combo IC, a chip that integrates several of the major functions of a cordless telephone into a single IC [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]. Included on the chip are a dual-conversion receiver, a compander, a dual universal PLL, a supply voltage monitor, and a frequency inversion voice scrambler/descrambler security circuit.
Thanks to recent developments, digital technology is no longer limited to baseband applications. Faster analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters (ADCs and DACs) are making direct digital synthesis (DDS) of RF signals a possibility for lower-frequency (A-MHz) RF applications. Most converters running above 400 Msamples/s are too bulky and power-hungry for portable applications today, but rapid advances in circuit fabrication will probably see commercially available digital radios passing the GHz threshold before the turn of the century.
These advancements are leading the way for the “software radio,” an all-digital architecture which can be programmed to accommodate any modulation scheme or protocol within its frequency capability. While microphone-to-antenna software radios are not quite a reality today, DSPs are finding their way to the heart of many wireless applications.
While extreme levels of integration can be used for many wireless applications, it is often too costly to implement for all but the commercial products with the highest production volumes.
RF BUILDING BLOCKS
The building-block approach developed by Fujitsu Microelectronics USA, San Jose, Calif., can be used to simplify designs and reduce production costs. Fujitsu has focused on offering its Super Analog component family, a line of smaller, less application-specific integrated “RF building blocks” that can be used in a variety of situations. Currently, their lineup includes the MB5401 integrated low-noise amplifier/mixer, the MB5402 dual low-noise amplifier, and the MB5403 two-stage medium-power amplifier. With a maximum operating frequency of 1.1 GHz, they can simplify both cellular and wireless data applications.
Although current technology does not allow us to apply true functional block-oriented ASIC design techniques to RF circuits yet, Fujitsu does offer a unique “RF Macrocell” technology for speeding up the design process. Known as the Versi-TILE process, it allows designers to work with preengineered bipolar or biCMOS “frames”. The frames contain arrays of transistors, capacitors, and resistors that can be placed on a chip and connected to each other or other frames via two or three metalization layers. There also is a library of predesigned “tiles” which include prescalers, VCOs, buffer amplifiers, and PLLs.
Using the building-block approach, designers can go from supplying a preliminary block diagram to receiving working silicon in eight to twelve weeks. In addition to offering rapid turnaround, Versi-TILE has demonstrated a better than 90% first-pass success rate, based on over 100 designs. If a transition to higher-volume production is desired, the Versi-TILE circuit can be turned into an optimized full-custom design in under six months.
Although these sophisticated chip-level solutions make life much easier, they still can be tricky to use. While component count is sharply reduced, the selection and placement of passives, as well as pc-board layout, are all quite critical. To save designers the task of reinventing the wheel, many RF circuit manufacturers now are offering preengineered reference designs which can be used, at no cost, that can form the heart of a wireless product. In many cases, software for both DSPs and microcontrollers is also supplied. This advantage makes product design a matter of providing packaging, power supply, and custom features that allow for product differentiation.
At its simplest, a reference design includes a components list, schematic, and in the case of an RF device, the all-important pc-board layout artwork. M/A-COM Inc., Lowell, Mass., makes it easy to design its AM52-0001 power amplifier by putting together an evaluation kit containing application notes, a finished 4-layer pc board, all recommended surface-mount passives, RF connectors, and a dc multi-pin connector. Also included in the designers kit is a floppy disk with device performance data and a DXF pc-board layout file .
In extremely high-volume markets, chip manufacturers will go to great lengths to make their product easy to use. Analog Devices Inc., Norwood, Mass., has gone so far as to offer a completely certified design for its AD20msp410 GSM cellular telephone chip set. The three-chip solution includes a complete software package that performs all Layer-1 GSM functions. There’s optional software to implement Layers 2 and 3, as well as an application-layer tool kit for developing user interfaces and additional product features. Although it does not sell assembled units itself, Analog Devices went to the trouble of developing a complete cellular telephone design. The design has ETSI type approval, EMI/RFI, and spectral content. Using the preapproved design allows manufacturers bring their products to market in the shortest time possible by eliminating months of compliance testing.
In another case, National Semiconductor, Santa Clara, Calif., is helping electronics manufacturers compete in the highly lucrative market of DECT 1.9-GHz digital cordless telephones by offering a fully developed, type-approved reference design for a full-featured handset and base station. The CompleteDECT solution boasts an advanced RF section with high sensitivity, built-in antenna diversity, ten dialing memories, a 500-m range, a paging function, a 70+ hour standby time, and a 7-hour talk time. Along with a working evaluation unit, the solution includes schematics, parts-lists, pc-board specifications (including Gerber files), shielding specifications, timing diagrams, memory maps, plus test and tuning procedures.
DECT’s simpler cousin, the North American 49-MHz/900-MHz cordless telephone is another market where both cost and time-to-market are critical issues. Recognizing this, Zilog Inc., Campbell, Calif., has developed the ZPhone reference design, a turnkey solution for digital spread-spectrum cordless telephones. Based on its Z87000 and Z87010 baseband chips, and an RF section designed by L.S. Research, Ceadarburg, Wis., the ZPhone design allows manufacturers to produce a product with extended range and high voice quality. The ZPhone is expected to retail for under $140. Both reference designs and complete evaluation kits are available from Zilog.
Harris Semiconductor, Melbourne, Fla., has applied the same formula to its PRISM wireless LAN product line. Recognizing that the IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN standard is a complex, moving target to design products around, Harris has made its 2.4-GHz, 2-Mbit/s, DSSS wireless data system as easy as possible to implement [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 3 OMITTED]. In addition to a complete reference design, the PRISM chipset’s designers also offer an evaluation kit for prototyping and product development. It consists of two preassembled open-frame PCMCIA transceiver evaluation cards, the PRISM chipset, an industry-standard media-access controller (MAC), RF connectors, PCMCIA extender cards, single-user firmware licenses, diagnostics software, and documentation. If 802.11 compliance is not required, the PRISM system can serve as a platform for the development of customized radios with wider spreading codes and faster data rates which can go as high as 4 Mbits/s.
For one-of-a-kind or low-volume designs, it often pays to completely eliminate all RF engineering by purchasing a complete radio subsystem from another manufacturer, and embedding it in the product. For example, Proxim Inc., Mountain View, Calif., produces the WaveLAN2 product line which allows engineers to integrate a complete wireless LAN subsystem within their products, with a minimum of space, power, or design-time impacts. The unit’s type II PCMCIA card-sized radio data unit is self-contained, requiring only a PCMCIA interface and an antenna connection. RangeLAN cards can be connected conventionally, through an external PCMCIA slot, or embedded within the bowels of its host system. The card’s microminiature coaxial connector, located on its edge, permits an antenna to be attached directly or run to a remote mounting point via a connecting cable. Power consumption (300 mA during transmit) is one of the lowest in the industry, a plus for battery-powered portable applications.
SMARTER DESIGN SOFTWARE
RF design software has existed for nearly as long as computers, but it hasn’t matured at the same rate as its digital cousin. Some of the lag time is due to the lower demand for wireless systems, but the lion’s share belongs to the richer set of problems faced by the RF engineer.
Traditionally, Spice and various flavors of harmonic-balance analysis were used to analyze circuit designs. Spice-type programs can be very accurate for single-frequency operation, but become cumbersome when attempting to model transient behaviors. Additionally, Spice tends to choke on the non-linear noise response in components such as mixers, amplifiers, and downconverters.
Harmonic-balance software also has been used for highly accurate modeling of RF systems. One drawback with the software is that the simulation load grows exponentially with the number of components or frequencies involved. The result is that modeling non-linear components (which produce lots of harmonics), or circuits with much more than 20 devices, can tax even the most powerful workstation.
While these simple tools can be used to design today’s complex RF systems, it resembles constructing a small computer using stone knives and bear skins. Since design and analysis tools have lagged behind, engineers have relied on brassboard prototypes and other trial-and-error techniques. Of course, this meant at least two or three (and often more) passes were needed to get a design sufficiently debugged for production. It can be time consuming and costly enough for board-level designs, but the 12 to 15 months and three to five spins required for moderately complex RF ICs is nearly intolerable for the development of commercial wireless products.
Over the past few years, RF design software has finally begun to mature, and RF design practices have begun to change with it. Modern RF system design practice typically begins with using system-level behavior modeling tools. These tools are used to model a proposed circuit’s general characteristics, and permit engineers to analyze architectural choices. They could include different schemes for segmenting digital and analog functions. They also could look at the effect of various coding and error-correction algorithms upon the circuit’s overall noise and power characteristics.
A LAYERED APPROACH
Once the overall architecture is nailed down, individual portions of the circuit can be designed using software which works at the device level. After a circuit has been captured, it can be run through a new generation of circuit simulators that operate in the frequency domain. This process makes the analysis of a circuit’s response to complex modulation schemes a much less difficult task. Additionally, new advances in EM simulation allow modeling of the physical characteristics of a circuit, such as package-induced parasitics and the complex impedance generated by circuit board or chip-level interconnect traces [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 4 OMITTED].
This three-level approach offers many advantages. It permits engineers to make better system-level decisions by quickly exploring more design options before committing to a particular architecture. After detailed design begins, accurate circuit simulation helps reduce the amount of costly and time-consuming trial and error required to debug the design once its actually built (see “Past and future: The new world of RF design,” p, 52).
There are several commercially available RF design software packages which can be tailored to suit many different types of products. The Cadence/Alta group, Sunnyvale, Calif., offers a suite of RF design tools that support both system-level and device-level design and simulation. The software from Alta is used primarily for high-level system definition and analysis, while the Cadence package is focused towards detailed, device- and board-level circuit design and analysis.
At the system level, Alta’s EnWave package is a complete solution, created to specifically address the needs of designers working with wireless communications systems. Some of these systems include PCS, wireless LANs, advanced messaging, satellite communications, and digital cellular standards such as IS-95, IS-136, and GSM. Based on Alta’s core simulation technology, the EnWave package includes application-tuned libraries containing hundreds of algorithmic elements that simulate filters, codecs, amplifiers, modulators, mixers, and all the other elements of wireless systems. The package’s RF library allows designers to model distortions and nonlinearities in systems, to permit rapid trade-off analysis.
Alta’s recently introduced Spectre package also adds the capability to perform whole-chip simulations, including non-linear components. This advance is expected to help cut the number of chip-spins required to produce a working product.
Once a first-cut design is complete, it can be transferred for more detailed fine-tuning within the Cadence environment. While files are not directly transferable between the two systems today, work is underway to develop a seamless interface between the macro and micro design packages.
One of the other major players in the field is HP EEsof. They offer a well-integrated array of RF design tools which include simulation software, element libraries, and device modeling systems. Recently, a new suite of RFIC design tools were released with the intent of shortening the design cycle for RF subsystems. It uses multiple simulation technologies combined with highly accurate device models and efficient optimization algorithms. Even the mechanical properties of the semiconductor chips can be modeled to provide analysis of every aspect of a product’s design.
HP EEsof’s basic suite of RF design tools includes a linear simulator, a non-linear simulator, transient and convolution simulators, a statistical design package, a custom element development kit, and a Spice netlist translator able to import Berkley 2G6, PSPICE, and HSPICE netlists. Linkages to HP’s mechanical design packages and electromagnetic simulation software are available to perform accurate chip- or board-level design and analysis.
We can expect that wireless applications will be a rapidly expanding market well into the 21st century, and that the demand for engineers with RF familiarity will continue to be high. Fortunately, today’s design tools and products are making it easier than any time since the discovery of the spark gap transmitter to add wireless capability to your next product. While reference design-based RF subsystems take some of the “fun” out of product development, they give the overworked engineer an opportunity to add value to a product by adding functions and features in more visible locations.]]>
In RAID 0 recovery versions, this page gives step-by-step on how to start and finish recovery successfully, but users must be careful with potential problems that may occur. There may be cases when the data is totally corrupted, and even the whole array stops functioning. If the drivers are not set in the right order, even the server may face the consequences. In the case of RAID recovery, it is recommended to look for tools in order to reconstruct the array online. Online recovery programs offer many services that are less expensive than other options, and they do not require too much time. On the other hand, they offer solutions for different types of hard drive. Nonetheless, it is better to have the drives analyzed first, so the user can know if he must let the experts fix broken RAID array, or he can restore the data online.
How To Get Deleted Files From RAID?
Purchasing a RAID server is a perfect way for adding more performance to the network by increasing the data storage. It does not matter if it should be used by an individual or a company, RAID keeps all files at one place, and they are all easy to access. Nonetheless, any type of damage can happen to these servers, and the user must find the way to fix broken their RAID array, or do the recovery with the help of a professional.
The recovery software can be very helpful when it comes to restoring files. The recovered data can be easily written wherever the user want them, and even damaged RAID array can still be used to get the files. The RAID recovery process should follow some steps, but before starting with it, some things must be considered. The user must be careful with vibrations caused by outer factors, because they can cause errors in cable connectors. The hard drives must be away from the heat sources, and even dust can cause some serious troubles. The recovery process can be done even by amateurs with suitable software, but when one must fix broken RAID array, it is better to leave to people specialized for this, in order to prevent other issues.
Getting a decent data recovery for these kinds of servers in Irvine, California isn’t as easy as you might think. There are numerous sources like this where you can find these technicians. Although it is convenient on your part, sometimes it is confusing because you have to make an extra effort in comparing and asking for recommendations. In order to make things easier, you have to consider these simple tips. First, know the technician that offers RAID recovery services and concentrates on the Orange County area (here is an example). This means that you do not only consider his expertise but you also consider the efficiency of delivering the best results. Ask him when he can deliver the recovery process and make sure that it is within your time frame. If you urgently need the computer systems, better seek for the right technician who can deliver the services at the shortest time possible.
Troubleshooting The Poweredge Perc Controller Recovery
Getting effective Poweredge Perc Controller recovery is not that easy. There are a lot of tests to do in order to determine the defects and find solution for it. However, if you are knowledgeable about computers and you think you can troubleshoot the gadget, then you can perform the Poweredge Perc Controller recovery all by yourself. The task is just simple. You have to gather the necessary tools and troubleshoot the computer step by step. There is a certain command to be entered but make sure you do it properly. If you are not confident about this, try researching online. There are numerous online sources that you can make use of. There is also a software that you can download so that repairing the Poweredge Perc controller will be easier.
Nevertheless, if there are certain problems that cannot be fixed, always seek for help. Avail the services of computer technicians who can handle the recovery process. There are numerous technicians available these days. Their services may vary accordingly but you can be assured to have the computer fixed at the shortest time possible. The Poweredge Perc Controller recovery may be challenging but there are a lot of things or options to have it done.]]>
A few years ago, radio-frequency (RF) tags or transponders were used only in the rail industry and then, only as a means of tracking rail-cars. Today, however, tags have begun to catch on in the trucking industry, where private fleets and for-hire carriers alike are testing tags to speed up highway inspections and customs clearance and to identify equipment and loads.
Although only a few companies are experimenting with these devices right now, many industry experts believe tags will soon see widespread use. In the near future, they predict, tags will become as commonplace as bar codes when it comes to automatic-identification equipment used in distribution. “This technology is going to [revolutionize] the way some people manage their fleets,” predicts Jim Mathis, a vice president of engineering at trucking software maker Industrial Computer Systems in Evergreen, Colo.
Tale of the Tag
What is an RF tag? Basically, the tag consists of an antenna and microcircuit for data storage. The antenna can transmit the stored information – such as a trailer ID – via radio waves to a reader. Because radio waves are used, a tag reader does not require a direct line of sight to capture and decode information stored on the device.
The tags themselves come in two basic types – passive or active. Passive tags rely on energy from the reader to initiate communication. Active tags, on the other hand, use internal power to send signals to the reader.
Until recently, RF tags could only transmit data to a reader over a short range – often no more than 10 feet. Newer tags have ranges up to 300 feet. Similarly, whereas earlier versions had limited memory for data storage, tags today can have as much as 500 kilobytes of memory, depending on the model. Even with memory and range improvements, tags remain expensive. A top-of-the-line active tag today runs $50 or higher. Tag readers can cost as much as $15,000 apiece.
Despite those drawbacks, the market for radio-frequency identification equipment has grown in recent years. A 1996 Frost and Sullivan report estimated that 1995 revenues for radio-frequency identification device (RFID) technology reached $138.1 million. In part, the steady growth can be attributed to the use of tags to enable electronic toll collection. Vehicles equipped with tags can speed past readers on toll roads, expediting traffic flow while still allowing authorities to collect user fees.
In the area of commercial transportation, RFID technology was first used in the rail industry. Transmission range isn’t an issue there because readers can be placed alongside the train track in close proximity to passing railcars. As cars speed by, the readers capture information from the tag, noting the time, car location, and direction of travel. In fact, this technology provides the basis for car-location messages used by shippers to track freight.
Right now, some 3.5 million tags made by Dallas-based Amtech are deployed in the rail and intermodal industry. Truck-related applications are forthcoming, an Amtech spokesman says. The company has just begun testing a tag for use as part of a preventative-maintenance program. The new “odometer and identification” tag will relay the time, date, and vehicle’s odometer reading to a host computer. This information then can be used to initiate maintenance at specified mileage intervals.
Beside using tags to keep maintenance records, a number of companies are developing tags to help manage tractors and trailers at a terminal yard. A Virginia-based company, Randtec Inc., has developed a tag with a 128,000-byte memory and a general reading range of 300 feet. Food distributor Atlantic Food Services Inc. in Manassas, Va., worked with Randtec this spring to test the product for yard management. A dozen of Atlantic Food’s trailers were outfitted with Randtec tags and a sensor was installed at the yard gate and on dock doors at the food distributor’s warehouse.
If the sensors do their job of reading the trailer tags, the company will be able to note automatically which trailers arrive or depart from its yard and when they do so. “Our trailer-to-tractor ratio is real tight,” explains David Bunk, transportation manager for Atlantic Food. “The technology allows us to know what trailers are coming in and at what time of day. We can keep a tighter rein on the fleet than someone walking around with a clipboard and piece of paper.”
Savi Technology Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., is likewise developing a tag for truck-fleet yard management. Slated for rollout later this year is a system that creates an electronic record to monitor the movements of tractors, trailers, and even dollies. The tags used in the yard-management system have a range of up to six feet and a memory of 12 bytes.
Skipping the Scales
One of the most innovative applications of tags in the trucking industry is taking place in the western United States. Here, trucks are using tags to bypass weigh stations, where state officials normally stop vehicles to check for compliance with highway regulations. In California, where the program got under way in June 1995, state officials certify trucking companies for participation in the “PrePass” clearance system based on the carrier’s safety record. Once they are equipped with RF tags for vehicle identification, trucks in the program can skip highway weigh stations altogether.
The program, which is operated by a non-profit corporation called Help Inc. based in Phoenix, Ariz., uses transponders and readers manufactured by Hughes Transportation Management Systems in Fullerton, Calif. The Hughes tags have a range that extends up to 300 feet. A computer database developed by Lockheed Martin correlates the individual tag ID information to a specific truck and company.
At the moment, Help Inc. buys the transponders from Hughes and issues them free to participating motor carriers. It then collects a 99-cent fee each time a truck bypasses a weigh station. Walt Keeney, president of the motor carrier Food Express Inc. in Arcadia, Calif., says the time savings justify the cost. “A long-haul driver can only drive 10 hours a day [under federal driving rules],” says Keeney. “If a driver doesn’t have to stop at weigh stations [during the work day], you’ve just [saved] 40 or 50 minutes.”
The PrePass program is quickly expanding beyond California. The program now is under way in New Mexico and Wyoming, and Arizona will offer the program at certain sites later this year.
Eliminating Border Lines
In addition to their role at the weigh station, tags soon could play a major role in expediting the movement of freight across U.S. borders. A number of federal agencies, including the Treasury Department and Department of Transportation, are experimenting with tags to facilitate pre-clearance of cargo at the Mexican and Canadian boundaries. Officials are using Hughes tags for tests on the Mexican border and a transponder made by Mark IV Industries Inc. for tests on the Canadian border.
Similar in concept to the weigh-station bypass program, pre-clearance will allow selected trucks to sail through customs checkpoints. Trucks in the program will be equipped with a transponder that contains a vehicle identification number. When the truck approaches a border-crossing point, a reader will detect its ID and transmit that identification to a computer system that already has received Customs information on its freight. “The system will pull up on the inspector’s screen the info on the cargo and driver,” explains Robert Ehinger, director of International Trade Data Systems in the U.S. Treasury Department. “The system will even include a picture of the driver’s face for verification.”
Tracking the Tags
Despite their vast potential in this area, radio-frequency tags won’t be confined to trucking and rail applications in the future. Another tag maker, Micron, says it’s working on supply-chain applications that will make it possible for companies to mark boxes and pallets for tracking all the way through the distribution channel.
Most industry experts agree that the future for radio-frequency tags is bright. As the word spreads about the benefits of this technology, logistics managers pressed to find new ways to rev up the movement of goods through the distribution channel will surely consider adding tags to their teams.]]>
Web Log Analysis function
“You can’t rely on a hit counter to tell you any useful information about your Web site,” Siwek says. “Did an incoming browser hit your home page first or jump straight to another page within your site? How do you know? How do you quantify that traffic?”
WebTrends provides answers to those questions. The Web Log Analysis tools go through the IIS log files and create detailed profiles and analysis of your site’s usage. To run such a report, start WebTrends and click on the Web Log Analysis tab. You can modify an existing sample report, or click on the New icon to create a new report. Specify the location of the IIS log files, give the report a description, specify the URL for the home page, and the report is just about ready to go. You have several options to choose from, but the defaults are probably what you need.
Notice the combo box called Memorized Report Name. If you click on that, you can produce the report in HTML (the default), in a Microsoft Excel worksheet, a Microsoft Word document, or a plain text document. The HTML is the most dynamic: You can jump from section to section with ease. It’s also fast. “My site gets about 45,000 hits a year, and the report took only a few seconds to generate,” notes Siwek.
Another tab, Save As/Mail To, lets you customize what happens to the report after it’s generated. Typically, WebTrends creates a file in the root of your current fixed disk. However, you can also e-mail the report to someone (like your manager or Web administrator), or FTP it to a long-term archive. You can even schedule the report to run at specified times. The Style tab lets you select from English, French, German, or Spanish and change the report style. Styles change the report’s background color, table headings, and other chromatic and graphical elements.
Finally, the Content tab gives you nearly complete control over what goes into the report. You can choose from things like User Profiles by Region Graph, Most Requested Pages, Least Requested Pages, Most Downloaded Files, and other options. You can also specify whether the graphs contained in the report are displayed in 2-D or 3-D.
After everything is set the way you want it, press the Memorize button to save your settings. Then, you can click on the Start button to display the graph.
Siwek has found several practical uses for this report. He was expending considerable effort on multiple sections within his Web site, but he didn’t have a good idea of what section his customers liked the most. By running the Web Log Analysis report, Siwek discovered that a medical pamphlet section accounted for the majority of his traffic. Consequently, he concentrated his efforts on that section and improved the customer’s perception of his site, as measured by his discussions with some of his local Web site users and by the increasing traffic to the pages he tailored.
Siwek also found the report could help justify a server upgrade by providing information such as the amount of time needed to download the Most Requested Pages and the Bandwidth sections. This “gives management hard figures to use to make their decisions,” Siwek says. “It makes it easy for them to say yes.”
WebTrends “has good diagnostic tools,” Siwek says. “You can stay on top of broken links to keep your site error-free.” The WebTrends Link Analysis tab gives you the same level of control over Link Reports that you saw earlier in the Log Analysis reporting. For example, you can control how many broken links to contain in your report (50 by default), or how many new pages to display in the report table (also 50 by default). Creating a Link Report is even easier than creating a Log Report: Give WebTrends a description for your report and a starting URL, and you can get to the customization screen.
When you begin to run a Link Analysis, you see a results progress summary screen that looks a lot like a 1980s stereographic equalizer.
The Link Analysis Report contains good information about the health of your Web site. It includes a summary Link Integrity Report, which gives you a count of the verified, redirected, and URL Not Found references, as well as other errors; a report of broken links for both internal (within your Web site) and external links; and statistics about the kinds of links found within your site. For the latter category, you can determine how many of your links represent HTTP connections, HTTPS connections, FTP connections, and others.
The report also includes an Oldest Pages section. When combined with the log report of Least Used Pages, you can make decisions on which pages to remove. After all, if it’s old and no one looks at it, why let it take up space on your Web server?
This report can also help you tailor your Web site for users with different connection speeds. The Biggest (slowest) Pages section shows the pages that take the longest to download. Also, like many of WebTrends’ features tables or text that reference URLs, you can click on the reference to see the actual page displayed in your browser.
Not only can WebTrends analyze your Web site’s historical aspects, it can also warn you of outages. From the Alert tab, you can create monitoring agents. Alerts are flexible. From the Alerts tab, if you click on New, you enter a description of the alert and select the Device to Monitor. This is particularly useful for sites with firewalls. Many firewalls block PINGs as a protection against Denial Of Service attacks. The downside is that you can’t write simple PING routines to confirm your Web server is operational. WebTrends lets you check your site via a number of methods, including HTTP requests, Finger requests, URL requests, and ODBC requests.
After you make those decisions, you must give WebTrends the host name or IP address and the port (80 for most HTTP servers). You can then set the monitor interval. WebTrends checks your Web server once every second to once every 1,444 minutes (24 hours); after it checks, you can tell it to send an alert from one second after it detects a failure, to 1,444 minutes after it detects the failure. The delay helps guard against spurious errors generated by intermittent communications problems that you may not want to use to trigger an alert. You can also send another alert if the service becomes available again.
Next, you can elect to generate an audible alert. If you elect that method, you can choose from the typical system beep or specify a WAV file. If you have any Star Trek WAV collections, this might be a good application for them. WebTrends offers the option to set a duration and interval for the sounds.
In addition to sounds, WebTrends generates e-mail messages to report alerts. You can specify the recipient’s e-mail address and the message’s subject line. Finally, you can send a pager message to either a pager service or an individual pager. In the latter case, you can send either a numeric or alphanumeric message. Of course, the WebTrends alerting service can check servers other than the one it’s running on.
“As our volume increases, the ability to send alerts if our server goes down will be very important to us,” Siwek says.
WebTrends doesn’t confine reporting to a single server. It can run reports based on the logfiles of any NCSA-compliant (plus a number of other formats) log file it can see. A single WebTrends-equipped server could be the Web site management hub within your organization.
If you have proxy servers from Microsoft, Novell, Netscape, or Oracle, WebTrends can report on bandwidth, most popular sites, most active users, most downloaded files, activity level by various time periods, and more.
Management made simple
Siwek is happy with WebTrends. “The software is easy to install and easy to use. It does what it says it will do without difficulty,” says Siwek.
With the Log Analysis, Link Analysis, and Alerting tools, WebTrends lets Web masters manage their Web sites by evaluating site traffic and usage, maintaining data integrity, and minimizing down time. Finally, WebTrends can also analyze your proxy server to help you manage that resource.
One feature Siwek hasn’t used is the trending part of WebTrends. RDBMS integration features allow you to capture statistical information from your Web server’s logs (IIS, Lotus Notes Domino–according to the WebTrends manual, “all major and most minor log formats”) and store it in any ODBC-accessible database. This information includes the remote user’s IP address, source country, authenticated user IDs, top page usage, and usage statistics on pages last visited. With WebTrends’ ability to schedule tasks, you could periodically capture information and send it to your RDBMS. You could then perform historical trending analysis against that data. If you plan a major Web site change, you could use trending to measure the usage impact of that change. With the competitiveness of most industries, and with the pressure to keep costs down, a product like WebTrends can be important to your success. It’s a tool that can help measure the impact of changes, track usage across time and geographical regions (unless you have a firewall that acts as an inbound proxy), and fine-tune your Web site’s performance and usability.]]>
This kind of side-by-side image comparison is available in some commercial image-editing programs, such as Adobe Systems‘ ImageReady and Ulead Systems’ PhotoImpact 4. However, CyberView Image Pro goes further than these programs by providing a more refined toolset. It has three sets of sliders, each with a separate adjustment for the luma (intensity) and chroma (color) components. The three sliders are Precision (which determines the accuracy of the compression process), Compression (which determines how much of the original image information is removed during the compression process), and Selective (which determines the compression values for a selected area of the image). A fourth slider, Smoothing, adjusts how much optimal noise is removed.
For those who want to delve even deeper into the intricacies of the program’s JPEG compression, CyberView Image Pro lets you configure its quantization tables. Using the built-in Q-Table Designer, you can customize the way your files are compressed. If you have the time and inclination, you can experiment with the settings, eyeball the results, and redefine the compression parameters to your own preferences.
Finally, if you use your own digital photos and are concerned that others might claim those photos as their own, you’ll appreciate the program’s JPEG Image Signature feature. It embeds your name or another message into the file, making it possible to prove prior ownership.
The shareware version of CyberView Image Pro 4.02 is fully functional–except that it doesn’t permit you to save the compressed graphics. The $29.95 registration fee adds the save function to the program.
J-Perk creates Java applets you can use with your Web site. It differs from 6 Pack in that the applet-making process is integrated into a single program, and the applets are mostly limited to image and text effects. Because you can register the entire program for $29.95, it’s an especially good bargain.
The shareware version of J-Perk (formerly named Java Pack) includes some of the most popular Web-page special effects. The Animator applet creates animations, scrolling billboard ads, and slide shows. You can set the overall size of the animation, select the images to be animated, and choose from nine different transitions. The Dynamic Button applet lets you create buttons that change when a cursor passes over them or when they are clicked. The buttons work with frame-based as well as non-frame-based Web pages. J-Perk’s text applets include a swirling-color effect (different colors are applied to the text), a typewriter effect (letters appear one at a time as though coming from a typewriter), a scrolling effect (text scrolls smoothly from one side of the screen to the other), and a ticker effect (the scrolling text is linked to your choice of URLs).
Other applets include a working digital clock that shows both the time and date, a pull-down menu creator that provides an attractive way for your visitors to move from page to page, and a quick method for attaching a sound file to a Web page.
As an incentive for registering the program, J-Perk includes previews of additional applets that are available only in the registered version. These include image effects (Image Fade, Image Cube, Image Ripple, and Lake Reflection), text effects (Status Bar Text Ticker and Fading Message), and miscellaneous effects (Password Protection and Screen Color Fading).
Java applets provide a quick and easy way to add specific functions to your Web site. Even if you don’t know how to program in Java, hundreds of applets are available online that you can essentially cut and paste into your HTML pages. Usually all you need are a few lines of HTML code to call the applet’s files and to modify their parameters.
Silk Webware’s 6 Pack brings together six of the company’s most popular Java applets. Each includes sample HTML code that makes it easy to integrate the applets into your current pages. Applet Banner Factory produces banners with a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, speeds, text arrangements, and special effects (3-D text, title glow, and white mask). Codelink adds password protection to your Web site. It places a burglar-alarm-style keypad on your page; the keypad requires the correct seven-character password before allowing access to a secret Web page. IconBar creates a group of clickable buttons that can be arranged vertically, horizontally, or as a rectangular block of icons.
MailMe automatically e-mails information to visitors who request it and even embeds a link back to the Web page. With Searchlink, you can add a search engine to your Web site that searches as many as 200 Web links by keyword. And Spinalink provides a professional- quality selector tool for choosing among a group of page links or graphics files.
The six applets are linked by common HTML files, allowing you to quickly view and–in the case of the Applet Banner Factory–try out the parameters in real time. You register the applets individually by paying fees that vary from $24.95 to $35.95. Given the diversity of the collection, you’re likely to find one or two that are must- haves.
You’ve spent a lot of time designing and refining your Web site. Everything seems to be functioning, but you have this nagging suspicion that your site could be improved structurally.
Instead of spending a small fortune to hire a Web expert to ferret out your site’s weaknesses, you can enlist the help of a program such as SiteHog 1.0.7. It displays all the links from your home page, including other HTML pages, graphics files, and mail-to entries. The linking structure is displayed graphically in a Windows Explorer-like tree format, allowing you to open files with the associated Windows applications. Double-click on a linked HTML page, and it brings up your browser. Double-click on a GIF file, and it brings up your graphics-editing program.
You can also use SiteHog to validate your HTML pages. The resulting errors, warnings, and hints will help you find and correct nonstandard HTML syntax, start tags that don’t have a corresponding end tag (such as OPEN and CLOSE), and invalid values for selected HTML tags (such as FRAMEBORDER). The program gives specific recommendations, so it’s relatively painless for an HTML programmer to make any of the needed adjustments.
Other options include the ability to choose specific browsers for compatibility (Netscape Navigator 1.0 through 3.0, and Internet Explorer 1.0 through 3.0), as well as the HTML standard level (HTML 1.0 through 3.2; Netscape extensions 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0; and Internet Explorer extensions 2 and 3). The program can estimate the amount of time that each page will take to download, and it provides warnings for pages that take longer than a designated period.
You can also set the number of link levels that SiteHog will explore (zero through nine); whether broken links should be reported; and whether images, e-mail addresses, remote files, and repeated HTML pages should be displayed.
This shareware version does not provide HTTP support, so all of its analyses are performed on your hard drive. The $80 registration fee brings you HTTP support in an upcoming version of the program, as well as technical support via e-mail.
Traffic Builder 1.7
You’ve added some cool-looking Java applets, slimmed down your JPEG files, and optimized your HTML code and links. Now what? You need visitors to appreciate the work you’ve done. You could register your site with hundreds of Internet-based search engines, directories, and link pages, but do you really have time to do this? It would be much easier to use a program that automatically registers your site for you.
One of the best site-submission utilities is Traffic Builder 1.7 (formerly SoftSpider for Windows). The registered version of the program can submit your Web site to 1,009 different reference sites; the nonregistered version limits you to five reference sites at a time.
The interface lets you select all 1,009 sites, just specific site categories (such as award sites, search engines, classifieds, directories, and media outlets), or individual sites.
Other notable features include the SmartCheck option that matches your site’s keywords against a list of site categories, an evaluation of your Web site’s current visibility with the top search engines, and reports on which submissions were successful and which weren’t.
Traffic Builder 1.7 has two registration options. You pay a registration fee of $49.95 to purchase the standard edition of the program. The professional edition of the program, available for a $99.90 registration fee, adds the ability to submit multiple URLs at the same time.
Fine-tune the compression algorithms of your JPEG graphics files with CyberView Image Pro 4.02.
J-Perk provides a small arsenal of image and text effects that can add color and movement to your Web site.
Spruce up your Web site with 6 Pack’s Java-based applets, including one that lets you create custom banners.
SiteHog can check your pages for nonstandard syntax and start tags that don’t have a corresponding end tag.
Need to promote your Web site? Traffic Builder 1.7 can register your site with 1,009 different reference sites.]]>
Ahead of Its Time
Fusion’s pasteboard has always been one of the program’s killer features. With a pasteboard-layout metaphor, you create complex Web pages simply by dragging and dropping text and images on a page. Fusion generates the HTML code when you’re ready to put your page on the Web.
Previous versions of Fusion use complicated grids to replicate a user’s designs within the limitations of HTML. You can now also choose to use Layers, a new feature supported in version 4.0 and later browsers, to draw pages without the hidden complexity of grids. (The older, table-based system remains if you need compatibility with older browsers.) Fusion 3.0’s layout editor now supports a large number of Dynamic HTML behaviors, such as animated images and rollover effects, that are on a par with those in GoLive’s CyberStudio and Macromedia’s Dreamweaver (see Reviews, September 1998).
But not all pages really call for a drag-and-drop design approach. It’s much easier to treat pages with long streams of text as one large text block, rather than as several smaller layout elements. With version 3.0, Fusion’s page editor allows authors to create pages (including those with in-line graphics) entirely within a word processor-style interface, similar to that of competitors CyberStudio and FileMaker’s Home Page. You can also opt to use the contents of a hand-coded HTML file as the body of a page (using Fusion merely to generate navigational elements), add custom HTML tags within pages, and add externally generated HTML pages to the site structure.
The Site’s the Thing
Fusion’s other claim to fame has been the program’s integrated site-management tools. Since the entire structure of a Web site is saved within Fusion, the program can automatically generate navigational buttons and links on every page of your site as well as frame sets for those navigational items. Once a site’s ready to go online, Fusion automatically generates all the appropriate files and can optionally upload them to a Web server.
In previous versions, users had little control over how Fusion organized the HTML files. But with Fusion 3.0’s Publish window, you can specify exactly where you want every file on your Web site to be placed and what you want each one to be named.
FileMaker Enters the Picture
For some time, the Windows version of Fusion has been able to automatically generate pages based on the contents of an external database; the Mac version finally catches up in version 3.0, letting you create pages from FileMaker Pro.
You can place a table on a Web page that contains selected fields from a selected FileMaker database, one row per record. Clicking on a row’s link takes you to a detail page for a particular record, which lists other selected information extracted from FileMaker. This information is static–it doesn’t update when you change the FileMaker database, but rather when you reexport HTML.
Although it’s encouraging to see this feature finally come to the Mac, limitations hamper the feature’s usefulness. For example, the record table follows a particular format that is impossible to edit, and you can’t do very much to customize detail pages. Furthermore, the database-publishing feature is unstable: Fusion crashed several times when I tried to publish pages generated from FileMaker, and sometimes it took as much as a minute to generate a custom page.
Fusion’s lineage as a port from Windows has always been a big problem, especially the program’s non-Mac-standard interface. Although Fusion still won’t win any design awards, its collection of floating palettes, window tabs, and dialog boxes has been streamlined.
Fusion lacks printed documentation; NetObjects provides a 146-page Getting Started guide, but I constantly had to refer to the program’s full documentation–a 500-page PDF file.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
With NetObjects Fusion 3.0, you can quickly create attractive Web sites without learning HTML or slaving to make sure your site’s navigational elements are up-to-date. Professional Web authors and Webmasters will probably still prefer to design their sites using tools such as CyberStudio or Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit, both of which create pages directly in HTML rather than exporting the result. But Fusion 3.0’s improved flexibility makes the program a powerful, easy-to-use tool for creating and managing Web sites. After two years of trying, Fusion finally lives up to its advance billing.]]>
Using WebLoad 3.0, released last month by RadView Software Inc., we could test any Web application to see how it handles high levels of traffic and also check its ability to meet necessary performance goals. Prices for WebLoad start at $4,000 for 100 virtual clients, which is on par with most of its competitors, although basic performance testing tools are available for free.
Nevertheless, WebLoad’s easy-to-use test script creation capabilities and powerful and flexible performance testing features make it well worth paying for. WebLoad 3.0 is one of the best Web server and application testing tools we’ve seen and earns an Analyst’s Choice designation.
By focusing on the performance of Web applications such as e-commerce stores, WebLoad also fills an important need that has gone mostly unmet by competing testing tools. Rival products either focus on developer-oriented debugging, as in products such as Segue Software Inc.’s Silk and Rational Software Corp.’s SQA Suite, or are mainly Web server performance-related, typical of products such as Mercury Interactive Corp.’s Astra SiteTest.
Although we could use any 4.0 or later browser from Netscape Communications Corp. or Microsoft Corp. with the AAT, if we wanted to create a test through a Secure Sockets Layer connection, we had to use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
WebLoad 3.0’s new Cruise Control test allows developers to see how well their Web applications meet performance goals. We configured Cruise Control to determine the level of traffic at which a test application’s response time would rise above 5 seconds. From the Cruise Control results, we could tell if we would be able to provide acceptable response times to visitors during peak traffic periods. Setting up a Cruise Control test is simple, and WebLoad’s useful wizard steps users through the process.
WebLoad also can do standard performance tests to detect how well the site runs under various traffic levels, which is useful for determining what hardware and software to use for a site.
It is possible to combine many WebLoad agendas in a single test in order to simulate many users performing different tasks on the site. We could define any number of virtual clients to use in testing (although this does depend on the license purchased from RadView) and could divide them among several load servers. Cruise Control tests also require a server to run as a probing client, which monitors the performance of the site during testing. All WebLoad servers run under Windows NT.
The main Monitor interface of WebLoad makes it possible for users to view tests as they run, which is very useful, especially if something isn’t working right and the test needs to be rerun. The program automatically generates graphs and reports during and after the test.
Although these are useful and will meet most needs, we would like a few more options, especially in the graphs.
We could export our reports as text or directly to Excel, which then let us do as much customization as we needed to.
WebLoad’s Monitor lets users view performance tests in real time.
Executive Summary: WebLoad 3.0
RadView’s WebLoad is a valuable tool for Web application developers who need to know how their applications will handle heavy traffic loads. With its very good test creation tools and ability to simulate a large variety of users, WebLoad lets businesses find out what their sites can handle without having to do it the hard way.
Pros: Can create test scripts that cover entire process of complex Web applications; able to test sites’ ability to meet specific performance goals.
Cons: More customizable built-in reports would be useful.]]>