Editor’s Comments: Microsoft Windows Media Encoder,
Adobe Atmosphere and Renegade Fonts

By William LaMartin, Editor,Tampa PC Users Group

Renegade Fonts Let’s do the font bit first. In the June 1996 newsletter I mentioned a problem in Microsoft Access caused by the Hatten font installed with Microsoft Publisher 98. It was the first time I had run across the fact that having a certain font installed on your computer could cause a program to malfunction. I must admit that I don’t understand how a "bad" font could cause a program to crash if the program doesn’t use that font, and I don’t think the program in question, NetMeeting, used any of the fonts I deleted to resolve the problem, since they were all dated before 1995.

Here’s what happened. On a computer on which I had done a clean installation of Windows Millennium several months earlier, I decided to do a NetMeeting. On doing this, after NetMeeting had essentially loaded, I got the message "CONF caused a general protection fault in module GDI.EXE." If I closed out this message, NetMeeting would also close. If I just left the message up, then NetMeeting seemed to run sort of OK. There were problems, but they could conceivably be the fault of the other person in the meeting. A check of the Internet and Microsoft's site produced no mention of such a problem.

This past week, which was a couple of months later, I again tried out NetMeeting and received the same error message. However, this time much more seemed wrong. So, as I had done before, I went to Microsoft and downloaded the current version of the program and reinstalled NetMeeting. I also got the newest version of the Internet Explorer package and installed it. The error was still there.

I then searched the http://www.deja.com/usenet site (now redirected to Google) for that error message and found out that others were now having the same problem and that Microsoft had said it was caused by incompatible fonts. I went to the article at Microsoft and found out that I needed to remove all fonts dated differently than the date on my Win.Com file and see if NetMeeting ran OK. I did this—and it did. So some program that I had installed had installed one or more fonts that NetMeeting didn’t like.

To get as many fonts back as possible, I reinstalled them in blocks ordered by date until the problem reappeared. The problem returned when I added back fonts dated earlier than 1995. I didn’t really care about any but two of these fonts, so I reinstalled these two, which caused no problem, and threw away those remaining before 1995.

I have left out a very important detail—how did I remove the fonts and then get them back? I will let you think about that for awhile. You might try it on one font and then think how well what you did would work for hundreds.


Windows Media Encoder Those of you who check your email or look at our main web page, http://www.tpcug.org, know that I put at our site several Windows Media Player files of audio versions of some of the articles in the March newsletter. It was an interesting experiment.

If you would like to record audio and/or video in Windows Media format, go to Microsoft and download the free Windows Media Encoder. It also allows you to change audio and video files in other formats to the Windows Media Player format.

Adobe Atmosphere, really Adobe Atmosphere Beta Builder and Browser plug-in, allows you to create 3D virtual interactive worlds and to view them in your browser. The builder and the browser plug-in can be downloaded for free from http://www.adobe.com/products/atmosphere/main.html. I am sure the browser plug-in will remain free, but in the release version the builder will be a retail product.

As you may know, I have played with 3D virtual worlds before, and there is a "TPCUG Virtual Reality" link on our main page to prove it. That was done in a piece of software written by, I think, a company called Cosmo Software. Corel packaged Version 1 of the program with its WebMaster suite and called it CorelWeb.World back then. I later tried Version 2 of HomeWorld or some such name from Cosmo Software and almost had a much better TPCUG world created when my trial time period ran out. I didn’t love or need the program enough to purchase it, so the improved TPCUG Virtual Reality world never saw the light of day on the Internet.

The above mentioned 3D rendering for the Internet used a VRML plug-in for your browser. Now such technology is an integral part of Internet Explorer in its latest versions. Atmosphere, however, does not employ VRML but rather its own technology. That is why you need to download their Atmosphere plug-in to view worlds created in Adobe Atmosphere. So, do it right now. Go to http://www.adobe.com/products/atmosphere/main.html and get the browser plug-in. Once you have done that you can view my first attempt at http://home.netcom.com/~lamartin/aa1_test/first.htm. To see more professional examples, click on one of the Adobe book marked links that appear on your browser.

first_world.jpg (46727 bytes)

The image on this page is a screen capture of my first world created with Atmosphere Builder. It is not very polished, but it gave me a chance to try out the program. You are viewing the scene from inside a tunnel. There is a photo gallery where you can view the photos on the walls. There are stairs to climb and portals that if entered will transport you to other 3D worlds. The man you see in the image is an avatar representing another visitor to the world other than yourself (you do not see the avatar representing you—however you can choose what it looks like and others visitors to the world will see him). There is a chat feature that allows you to chat with all other visitors to the world.

One feature I’ve done just a little with is the use of Java Script to make the world a little bit interactive. I have used this idea to play a sound when someone moves their mouse over a particular object and to jump to my web site http://www.lamartin.com when they move their mouse over a LaMartin.Com sign in the world.

Adobe hosts an Atmosphere discussion forum where you can ask for help and, as you get better at building worlds, give help. The Builder program really appeals to me, but, after getting my first world up and running, I am going to have to let it rest for awhile and get some other things done. u