The meeting got underway with the usual question and answer session. The questions were many and varied. An informal poll taken during the session indicates that almost half of the 160+ attendees had upgraded to Mac O S8. Of those that hadn't most indicated that they lacked the requisite 68040 or PowerPC processor.
Corel Corporation sent one of its WordPerfect product specialists all the way from Ottawa, Canada to demonstrate the capabilities of their software. Jeremy was a real product enthusiast. It is unusual to see someone get excited over a word processor early on a Saturday morning, but Jeremy did it.
Of course, WordPerfect has been around for quite some time. It has gone through three changes of ownership. Novell bought it some years ago and didn't quite know what to do to the product other than change the splash screen. Corel has made and is making many changes to move the product forward and improve one of the things that always frustrated me, integration of graphics into a word processing document.
One of the things I like best about WordPerfect is that unlike the other widely used word processor from Redmond, the WordPerfect interface is decidedly Macintosh. It doesn't look like something poorly ported from Windoze. As with any tool, some will prefer one brand over another, but I definitely like the feel of this one. Jeremy informed us that the newest versions of CorelDraw and WordPerfect are on the very near horizon. Hopefully, we'll have them back in a few months to show them off.
The demo of WordPerfect proceeded smoothly with a quick overview of the toolbar, tools and major features. One of these, the ability to quickly and easily add a table of contents and index to a large document, is one of the major reasons I like this product. As a software developer, I am required to produce documentation of the software we develop. Since I like to write software and hate to write prose, anything which makes the job easier is appreciated. To create a table of contents, you simply insert an "anchor" at the front of your document and then highlight and mark the topics you want in your table of contents as you go, or as you are editing your document. Push the generate button on the toolbar and it's done.
Similarly, the index is generated by defining a list of keywords you wish to have indexed. You can develop this manually, or use a software program to create a concordance file which you can edit and use to generate the index.
Jeremy also demonstrated the building of hot links within documents (similar to the links used on WWW pages) and the ability of WordPerfect to export HTML documents for web publishing, styles, the ability to create a table from imported text and other features too numerous to mention.
After a short break while we had questions and answers on general topics and WordPerfect, Jeremy launched into a demo of CorelDraw 6 for Macintosh. He admitted up front that he was not a graphic artist but did a credible job of demonstrating many of the features of the product. Of course, he was stumped by some of the questions from the artists in the crowd and apologized profusely. Hopefully, the questioners contacted him after the meeting to give him a chance to gather e-mail addresses to get those queries answered.
I have had a chance to use CorelDraw on both the Mac and the dark side. While I am also not an artist, I have used it to customize graphics and scanned art for documents I was creating. Once you've mastered the artistic lingo and figured out where all of the tools are located and how they work, you can get good results even if you aren't an artist.
Jeremy took us through a prepared demo which demonstrated most of the major features of the product. First he took some text and a picture and used the ability to edit bezier curves to distort the text and a picture. He then proceeded to demonstrate other "filters" which magnify, posterize, false color and otherwise distort your artwork. He then took a picture of a acrobatic skier and removed the blue sky behind him using a bitmap color editor. I have used this technique before and it does work, as long as the colors in your image are highly contrasted. If the blue in the sky matches closely the blue in your subject's eyes, you can get some really interesting results.
Corel generously provided user group discount forms to those in attendance to order Corel products at substantial discounts. The also provided a copy of Corel WordPerfect 3.5 for our door prize drawing.
Door prize winners for this month are:
Corel WordPerfect 3.5 - Stuart Bonwit
Apple Compatible trackball - Mary Keene
Wrist Rest - Patsy Crouch
Cyberstudio 30-day trial CD - Margaret Culbert, Robert Langer, Peter Colm and Attila Horvath
Voice Director Headphone and Microphone - C. Campbell David
Ram Doubler 2 - Joy Gwaltney
CyberFinder - Margaret Davison
Hand Excerciser - Roger Hirschy
Mac 3-D Handbook (Book & CD) - Bill Wydro
Canvas Tote Bag - Robert Wilbur
Running Microsoft Excel 5 - Charles A. James
Web Publisher's Design - John Hyland
Sonata Amplified Speakers - Mark Zolenas
Sincere thanks to Corel for sending Jeremy all the way from the Canadian Capital to the U.S. Capital to visit us. Thanks also to all of the vendors and members who donated door prize items. And finally thanks to Beth, Bill, Lorin, Tom and all of the people who help make these meetings come together every month. Next month: "Tool Time" with Symantec and Aladdin. See you there.