Pings & Packets from eWEEK Labs - 16

3B brings new life to shopping online ... SCPP helps sites cope with disasters ... CheckInstall gives Hedgehog a lift.

3B Brings New Life to Shopping Online

The song "Judith" by the rock band A Perfect Circle opens with, "Youre such an inspiration for the ways that I will never ever choose to be." After reviewing the 3B browser, I kind of know what the lyrics mean.

3B, a free application from Three-B International, is one of the best implementations of a 3-D or virtual reality Web interface I have ever seen, providing an attractive interactive environment for online shopping and information gathering that mimics real-world movement in many ways—right down to direction arrows, subway maps and quick taxi rides to specific destinations.

For example, in a 3B-enabled movie shopping site, I could walk past giant poster-size views of movies and move from section to section, just as if I were in a giant Blockbuster store.

This would be great except for one thing: I hate going to Blockbuster and much prefer renting online from Netflix and shopping at sites such as Amazon. If I had my way, the real worlds interface would work more like the Web.

But those who are interested in 3-D interfaces should check out the 3B browser, which is undeniably cool and well-implemented. To download the free browser, which runs on Windows 2000 and XP, go to www.3b.net.

--Jim Rapoza

SCPP Helps Sites Cope with Disasters

Palo Alto Softwares clever business-continuity planning tool, Systems Continuity Plan Pro, incorporates Neon Softwares LANsurveyor network management tool.

At $1,295, SCPP is a reasonably priced utility that will help small and midsize IT shops prepare for business interruptions.

SCPP, released last month, methodically guided me through a detailed questionnaire, helped me specify project teams, and generated presentation-ready reports and detailed graphs to help me sell the idea of business continuity to upper management.

Although SCPP sometimes balked when I stepped through the wizards, its handy reports and orderly support documents were well worth the minor hassle.

Most organizations could easily spend the cost of SCPP just trying to organize an attempt at a continuity plan for IT. To get the planning tool with one of my favorite small network mapping and management tools, LANsurveyor, is a real bonus.

Check out SCPP at www.paloaltosoftware.com.

--Cameron Sturdevant

CheckInstall Gives Hedgehog a Lift

Ubuntu Linux 5.04, aka Hoary Hedgehog, initially won my heart when I discovered that it could send my ThinkPad T41 into hibernation without the extensive tinkering that my previously most-favored distribution (Fedora Core) required. However, the sweet package management system that Ubuntu inherits from its parent distribution, Debian GNU/ Linux, is what keeps me happy with Hedgehog.

Even though there are more than 10,000 software packages available for install on Ubuntu or Debian, I often find myself seeking an application not to be found in my configured repositories, or, more often, Im after a newer version than the one available.

Enter CheckInstall, a simple application that I run in lieu of the "make install" step that typically finishes off a from-source software installation.

CheckInstall notes where the binaries and configuration files for an application are supposed to go. However, rather than installing them, CheckInstall folds them into a Debian package, which can then be managed along with the rest of the applications on my machine.

If youre not running Debian, CheckInstall can also build packages for Slackware or RPM-based systems.

If youre running Debian or Ubuntu, the command "apt-get install checkinstall" will get you up and running—otherwise, see asic-linux.com.mx/~izto/checkinstall/index.php.

--Jason Brooks