Well, Microsoft has done it again. It launched an Internet-based competition and only mentioned in the small print that this competition is limited to the US. I know that running international competitions is a logistical nightmare, but I would appreciate some up-front acknowledgment that these limitations exist. At least I wouldn't blame Microsoft for being lazy because I could understand the problems involved.

Naturally, in a fit of grumpy temper, I rattled off a rude email to Someone Important in Redmond. Within the hour, I had a reply stating, "Good point. We are insensitive sometimes. I will see about getting this problem fixed." Fair enough. Maybe the message can travel not only within Microsoft in Redmond, but also out to the major non-US centers. We Europeans would like to have local competitions too, please.

And don't you other companies think I'm just picking on Microsoft. I'm watching you, too!

Internet Video
I was not able to attend the recent Microsoft Professional Developers Conferences held in San Francisco and Los Angeles. However, Microsoft set up a live Internet video feed, which, Microsoft claimed, would bring me into the event in realtime.

I was hugely disappointed. Seeing His Billness projected as some sort of splodgy modern-art caricature of the Gates we know and love (or hate), came as a bit of a shock. The update speed was dreadful, and I was left with a smeared, postage-stamp image in the middle of my Web browser.

Before you blame my equipment, I have a 64KB permanent Internet connection and lots of client horsepower. If the Internet backbones around the world were clogged with other traffic, then this problem is inherent in the overall plan.

I've seen a few Web sites that have used QuickCam cameras from Connectix (http://
www.connectix.com/connect/cqchome.
html) to take snapshots every few minutes. I've even seen one intranet application that used old 386 computers on a company's internal network to act as internal security cameras within a warehouse block.

For something a little more adventurous, check out the Virtual Jerusalem site (http://
www.virtual.co.il) The site has a camera overlooking Jerusalem's Western Wall. Since December, the site has received more than 4 million hits per month.

What's interesting about this site is that they have used an Axis NetEye 200 camera. It's a palm-sized, network-ready digital camera from Axis Communications (http://www.axis.se). It is self-contained, combining RISC-based hardware, a digital colour camera, a built-in Web server, and a direct Ethernet attachment--all in a compact (2"*5"*6") unit.

Easy Tutor: Learn Windows NT 4.0
Computer-based training products are difficult to create. Which level do you target the content for? How do you develop on screen examples that make sense? How do you maintain the attention of the victims so that they are tempted to continue the training rather than pause for an essential game of solitaire--I mean for some proactive network traffic analysis?

The Easy Tutor interactive CD-ROMs from CRT Multimedia have a good reputation. The Windows 95 product sold very well, and indeed Microsoft bundled it with some packages of Win95.

I've been looking at the Windows NT 4.0 product, and I'm impressed. This tutor is no replacement for Microsoft Windows NT Workstation Resource Kit for NT 4.0, nor will it get you through the relevant MCSE certification exams. But Easy Tutor is not aimed at that level--it's aimed at beginner- and middle-level users. As such, the product has a wide range of explanatory text, covers a variety of day-to-day tasks, and lets you dive into detailed explanations.

Why am I telling you about this product? Because CRT Multimedia is a London-
based company, and I like to fly the Union Jack sometimes.

Easy Tutor is highly interactive, with lots of animations, and living screenshots that show what you have to do, step by step. You can run the tutor from the CD-ROM drive with full auto-play support. The tutor worked well on my monster NT 4.0 workstation. I had a few problems with some of the graphics, although my true-colour 1600*1200 desktop could have caused this trouble. The tutorial is inexpensive, so it's good for users who might be familiar with Windows 3.x but have never used Win95 or NT 4.0.

Easy Tutor
CRT Multimedia
44 1 81 743-9900
Web: http://www.crtmm.com
Email: sales@crtmm.com
Price: $44.99