Volume 94, Issue 20

Wednesday, October 4, 2000


A charmless flick about a chunky guy with charm

Actually, it's ugly

Warhols are Dandy, then, just Dandy

A bus tour like no other

Dot.Com - go

Dot.Com - go

For all the talk of multimedia uses for the Internet, the fact remains that most multimedia uses inferior to non-Net types of usage. MP3s, though impressive and handy, don't sound as good as CDs and the still more common forms of sound files, wav and RealAudio, aren't even close.

As for video, even with the quickest modem and fastest computer, the images are choppy and fuzzy. Until these problems are rectified, the Internet will not become the fully self-contained, home entertainment system that pundits and venture capitalists so sorely want it to be.

One program that is making inroads in this direction is Shockwave Flash. This free, downloadable plug-in (a piece of software that gives a web browser some additional function) is quickly becoming a major presence on the World Wide Web, because it allows Web site designers to incorporate fluid visuals and high-quality sound on their creations.

Although Flash has existed for several years, it has only been fully taken advantage of within the last few years. Musicians like Nine Inch Nails (www.nin.com), Radiohead(www.radiohead.com) and Prince (www.npgonlineltd.com) are among those who have taken advantage of Flash's features on their official home pages.

Essentially, Flash represents a new chapter in Web design because it allows the true multimedia entertainment on the Internet.

Aside from merely making Web sites look and sound a lot cooler, Shockwave Flash is rapidly becoming a popular program for game designers. The Web is clogged with hundreds of different games using this technology as their basis. Some of the more diverting entries can be found on sites like Ezone (www.ezone.com), home to the insanely addicting Santa Butt, Gamedowner (www.gamedowner.com) and Shockwave's own site (www.shockwave.com).

One of the best and most prevalent of these games is The Urinal Game, located at www.flasharcade.com/urinal.html, which presents the user with a number of situations in order to determine one's level of bathroom etiquette. Like all Flash games, it's completely useless, but it's still kind of fun.

Users have also begun to use Flash to create videos. These interactive cartoons are often quite funny and, aside from their sometimes painfully slow downloading time, can be a good way to pass the time (c'mon now, you can't always look at porn, can you?).

One of the best of these Shockwave artists is Rich Moyer, whose homepage (www.bunnygrenade.com) contains some of the funniest and most violent things on the Web.The animations called "Trailer Park" and "Jesus" are particularly good. If scatological humour is your thing, then make sure to check out Doodie.com (www.doodie.com), which bills itself as Potty Humour Central.

Although fully realized multimedia applications for the Internet have yet to be perfected, the proliferation of Shockwave Flash is a step in that direction and it may signal that further developments are not far from fruition.

– Aaron St. John

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Copyright The Gazette 2000