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CyberNews, Ascii Edition, Issue #4 - Interview with Bob Metcalfe, Father of Ethernet, Reviews and much more!.

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-=> CyberNews, The ASCII Edition, 2/95! <=-
Exploding with over 25 hot reviews of
software in all areas including graphics,
business, multimedia and more. We feature
an interview with the Father of Ethernet
Bob Metcalfe, How to Pick an Internet
Service Provider and we pick on the big
software companies! Reviews of Wildcat!,
Visual Recall, Deqview/X, Encarta and
much more! Readroom and Windows as well!

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CyberNews, Ascii Edition, Issue #4 – Interview with Bob Metcalfe, Father of Ethernet, Reviews and much more!.
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Contents of the CYBERA04.TXT file

February 17, 1995
Volume 2 / Issue 1
Copyright, 1995, (C)1995
Cannot be Reproduced or Used without Prior Consent

Table of Contents

| General Topics |

1.0 Where to Get CyberNews
1.1 How to Contact Us

| Reviews |
2.0 Software Review Section
2.1 Business Software
2.11 HotDocs by J. Bear
2.12 Visual Recall by D. Larson
2.13 DacEasy by M. Christensen
2.14 Catalog on a Disk by T. Cook
2.15 CashGraf by M. Christensen
2.16 11 Million Phone Number by E. Gelwan
2.2 Communications Software
2.21 Wildcat! 4.0 BBS Software by J. Bear
2.22 Delrina Communications Suite
by W. MacLeoad
2.3 Educational Software/Books
2.31 Wild Blue Yonder by D. Williams
2.32 Bright Star Programs by D. Reed
2.33 Encarta by B. Frazier
2.34 Space Shuttle CDROM
by J. Eichelberger
2.35 Linux Administrator's Guide
by C. Cox
2.36 Profiting from the Online World
by J. Litt
2.37 Managing Internet Information
Services by R. Szarka
2.4 Graphics Software
2.41 Adobe Acrobat for Workgroups
by D. Williams
2.5 Home Software
2.51 Puppies&Kittens by J. Eichelberger
2.52 ESPN IntelliSoccer by D. Pellegrinoq
2.6 Multimedia/Games/Recreation Software
2.61 Deathgate by B. Frazier
2.62 TFX by J. Eichelberger
2.63 Photography Made Easy by B. Garrson
2.64 MegaRace by B. Frazier
2.7 Network Software
2.71 NetViz by T. Kiblin
2.72 Desqview/X by R. Lis
2.8 Utility Software
2.81 Desktop Value Bundle by T. Taglari
2.82 TAWK by J. Lawless

| Features |
3.0 CyberNews Features
3.1 Selecting an Internet Service Provider
With so many companies to choose
from where do you start?
We explain!
| Interviews |
4.0 CyberNews Interviews
5.1 Bob Metcalfe, the Father of Ethernet,
takes a minute to talk about being a
living legend.

| Columns |
5.0 CyberNews Columns
7.1 Chip's World - Chip Cox shares his views
with us!
7.2 Programmers Are Not Dead by J. Lawless
7.3 Editorial - Ramblings from Patrick Grote

| Classifieds |
6.0 Classified Ads from Across the Country

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|even, the author shows you how! Did you know: | \ / | |
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| less than your average store soda. `. | | .' |
| * You can have all the new files you want without~. | | .~ |
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|To order THE BBS CASH MACHINE, send $13.95 to }~_~_~_~{ |
|Readables, POB 31351, St. Louis, MO 63122. Check/MO. }~_~_~_~{ |
|Satisfaction is guaranteed! |___| |

Finding CyberNews . . . .

So, you really enjoyed this issue of CyberNews? Fantastic!

You need to know how to get it every month? OK, check out the
listing below:

BBS: CyberNews is available on the following BBS systems:

Support U. BBS, the official support BBS: (314) 984-8387
PC Ohio (216) 281-3320
. . . and a whole host of other BBSs we upload to each month.

The filenames are:

CYBERW04.ZIP - Windows Version
CYBERR04.ZIP - ReadRoom Format

FidoNet: CyberNews is FREQable from 1:100/380 via the following magic names:

CYBERW - CyberNews Windows Edition
CYBERA - CyberNews ASCII Edition
CYBERR - CyberNews ReadRoom Format
CYBER - All three versions.


CompuServe: CyberNews can be found in the following forums:

Novell User (GO NOVUSER)
IBM Applications Forum (GO IBMAPP)

Delphi: PC SIG

America On-line: Computing and Software Section

Email: To subscribe to CyberNews via
email, send a message to [email protected] The latest
ASCII version of CyberNews will be sent to you.


Contacting us:

We are really easy to contact:

CompuServe: INTERNET: [email protected]
Internet: [email protected]
RIME: Route your messages to Patrick Grote on SUPPORTU
BBS: Support U. (314) 984-8387
Fax: (314) 984-9981
Voice: (314) 984-9691
Post Mail: 11221 Manchester Rd., Suite 313,
St. Louis, MO 63122

General Publication: [email protected]
Windows Publication: [email protected]
General Manager/Back Office: [email protected]
Advertising/Marketing/Public Relations: [email protected]
Writer or Columnist: [email protected]
Compliments: [email protected]
Complaints: [email protected]
Letters to the Editor: [email protected]

If you can't get us through any of those means, you probably don't need
to talk to us.

o o o o o o o . . . ____________________________ _____=======_____
o _____ | Jump onto | | Get into the |
.][__n_n_|DD[ ====_____ | the Future Track! | | E-MAIL CLUB! |
_/oo OOOOO oo` ooo ooo 'o^o^o o^o^o` 'o^o o^o`

Tired of seeing the message, "No Mail Waiting"? The Directory section of
the E-MAIL CLUB's Newsletter contains Personal Profiles of MEN AND WOMEN
worldwide with names and E-mail addresses. This is NOT an "adult"
service but the way to make dozens of on-line friendships with fellow
professionals, students, hobbiests, and persons with similar interests.
E-mail request to CIS: 74167,1004 * [email protected] *
[email protected] for full details.


Software Reviews
By CyberNews Staff
Business Software
HotDocs! 2.0
Review by Jacci Howard Bear

Where was this program when I was struggling through dozens of
"personalized" form letters, contracts, and real estate forms a few years
ago? I could have avoided hours of frustration with HotDocs templates.
HotDocs 2.0 for Windows works with WordPerfect for Windows version
5.2 and later, Microsoft Word for Windows version 2.0 and later, and Lotus
Ami Pro for Windows version 3.0 and later. If you do a lot of documents with
variable text, and do not own one of these Windows word processors--switch,
or bug the folks at Capsoft Development to support your word processor. This
simple program will save you time and aggravation.
Although you can use HotDocs to turn almost any document into an
interactive template, I see it as being especially useful for complex
contracts, wills, proposals, lease agreements, and other documents with
large amounts of variable text. If you employ temporary clerical help--who
may not be familiar with your particular word processing software--HotDocs
can help cut training time and ensure accuracy. Preparing your form letters
or other documents is a breeze for anyone. Just load the appropriate HotDocs
template and you or your helpers simply answer the questions on the screen.
No complicated creating of master documents and merge data files.
Of course the real test of any program is how well it works in the
real world. There are clear installation instructions for each supported
word processor. I use Ami Pro and the installation was painless and
brainless. The HotDocs User's Guide takes you step by step through the
process of turning an existing document into a HotDocs template. But before
creating your first template, it is best to test the sample documents
included with the program. Seeing how the program appears to the user who is
creating the custom document--what it asks, how to enter answers--helps to
understand the myriad of options available when you create your template.
From the point of view of someone filling in a HotDocs template, one
of the best features is the "real English" names displayed for the variable
text, the help fields for each entry, and the availability of multiple
choice lists, formatting hints, and other help. For example, an apartment
lease contract might offer a list of valid floor plans to choose from such
You or your employee simply marks the box that applies and you don't have to
worry about typos like 2RB/3BA or some other odd combination. In setting up
the template, you can specify whether the user can select only one or more
than one item in a list and how the program will format the list in the
document (paragraph form separated by commas, in a column, etc.). You can
also write custom help dialogs for each variable. Perhaps you have trouble
remembering that all invoices must have a date that falls on a Monday--write
a help dialog to remind yourself. All date fields also have a pop-up
calendar that makes date selection easier than ever.
There are eight types of variables used to create custom documents:
text, date, number, multiple choice, list, computation, personal
information, and true/false. Each type of variable has a number of options
including length, format, and custom prompts that you can specify when
creating the template. The User's Guide explains how to create each type of
variable and offers examples of how to use each type of variable.
If you spend a great deal of time doing customized forms, letters,
invoices and other similar documents, HotDocs can be a worthwhile
investment. From personal experience, I believe law offices, real estate
businesses, and any business that prepares contracts and legal documents
would love this product. It's a great automation tool for any business
involved in word processing.

System Requirements: PC with 386 or higher processor, Microsoft Windows 3.1
or higher, Windows word processor: Microsoft Word for Windows 2.0 or 6.0,
Microsoft Write, WordPerfect for Windows 5.2 or 6.0a, or Lotus Ami Pro 3.0,
2MB hard disk space, VGA or higher resolution monitor

Suggested Retail Price: $99.00
Upgrade Price: $39.95

Capsoft Development Corporation
732 East Utah Valley Drive Suite 400
American Fork, Utah 84003
(801) 763-3938
Fax: (801) 763-3999

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

| Advertising with CyberNews is Profitable! |
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| | Your company needs a star performer |
| | when you choose an advertising |
| `. | .' outlet. We are the brightest! We get|
| `. .---. .' your message to millions of people |
| .~ ~. each month. Guaranteed! |
| / O O \ Not only do we let you advertise in |
| -- -- -- ( ) -- -- -- three different versions of |
| \ `-' / CyberNews for no extra charge, but |
| ~. .~ we also offer advertiser benefits |
| .' ~---~ `. including free download service, |
| .' | `. reader response forwarding and much |
| | more! Rates start at $15.00 for |
| | classifieds and $75.00 for display. |
| Contact Patrick Grote at either |
| Sunny says, "Brighter profits 314-984-9691 or Internet email at |
| await those who advertise . . ." [email protected]! |

Visual Recall 1.01
Reviewed by Dale L. Larson

Xerox, besides being known for copiers, has long been known for
having several neat laboratories (most notably Xerox PARC, their Palo Alto
Research Center) which produce wonderful technological innovations that make
other companies rich. For example, Apple got rich with the Mac, using
technology borrowed from the Xerox Star (if you've never heard of the Star,
you can make an educated guess about its commercial success). Recently,
Xerox has been trying to reshape itself, focusing on solutions for all types
of documents in all media, and making effective transfers from the research
labs to the commercial marketplace. XSoft is a software division of Xerox,
and Visual Recall is one of its new products, moving technology from the
labs to the desktop. Is Xerox's new push is working? From this user's
vantage point, that question still lacks a definitive answer.
An important part of the new Xerox has to be marketing. Without it,
the best mousetrap won't sell, with it, even inferior old technology can
become "industry standard." Before looking at the box, I knew nothing about
Visual Recall, and the outside of the box is sparse. There is almost no
descriptive text, just "Visual Recall for Windows," "New Dimensions in
Document Management," "TextBridge inside!", a picture of hundreds of
documents with a magnifying glass over a few XSoft addresses, and fine
print about trademarks. Same front and back, with no additional details. In
their defense, perhaps it wasn't really intended for display on the retail
shelf. I quickly got the impression that this software would be a way to
visually locate scanned documents on my hard drive, and that this was the
Windows version of software available for several platforms. I was wrong on
both counts.
Fortunately, once you stop looking for marketing to tell you what it
is, you open the box and find that Visual Recall has good documentation. The
Visual Recall System Administration and Installation Guide describes VR as
"Visual Recall from XSoft is an application that runs in the
MicroSoft Windows environment. It is a collaborative document management
system that lets you index, search, retrieve, store, view, and modify
documents and images stored on your local disk or on Novell file servers.
You can also work with CD-ROM and non-electronic documents. Visual Recall
can run in networked or stand-alone mode."
Really, it seems to have more to do with organization than with
recall. VR works in terms of files, documents and drawers. Any file on your
HD can be a VR file. Once a file is indexed into VR, it is a document (a
document can also contain multiple files). VR documents point to one or more
files, contain properties such as Author, Date, Revision, Contact (all of
which are user definable), and documents may have their text content indexed
for fast text searches. Finally, cabinets are databases with their own
directory for all of the database files for all documents within that
cabinet. Each document belongs to a cabinet. You don't have to have multiple
cabinets. Files aren't moved to a cabinet, they stay where they were on your
HD, only the indexing information for documents is stored in the cabinets.
Each cabinet has its own property set, so you might store different types of
documents in different cabinets in order to index them with different
properties. You can include multiple cabinets in searches.

Indexing, Searching and Viewing

Visual Recall has easy to use mechanisms for indexing existing
files, making them VR documents. You can even index files with aren't on
your system (magazine articles, for example), but you won't be able to do a
context search unless you scan and OCR these documents to get them onto your
Once you've indexed a number of documents, VR allows you to easily
search for or look at a particular file. The "Visual" in Visual Recall comes
in with the GUI you use to specify searches, the different views with which
you can browse 'hits,' and the viewer that allows you to display your
documents on-screen, even without the application the documents were created
You can specify simple or complex searches based on document
properties and document content. VR content searches are driven with
advanced linguistic technology (the TextDataBase engine developed at Xerox
PARC) that matches roots and derivations. It is easy to narrow a search if
you find that you've too many 'hits' with your initial query.
You can look at the results of your search as a simple list of hits,
or in two unique views. The Tree View shows hits in a hierarchy of
properties, and the Grid View shows a 3-dimensional wall with hits laid out
linearly by a property like date or version.
As soon as I saw the Grid View, I recalled having read a paper on it
in the Human Computer Interface literature within the last few years and
that the paper had come out of Xerox PARC. I wish I'd been using a tool like
VR in 1991. I might not have had to spend 20 minutes searching my shelves
for the paper (Mackinlay, et al., "The Perspective Wall: Detail and Context
Smoothly Integrated", in proceedings of CHI, 1991, ACM, New York, 1991. pp.
173 179.).
The animated 3d view is even more attractive than the picture makes
it look, and it is a great way to visualize a large set of data all at once
(without scroll bars). In 1991, most desktop PCs didn't have the graphics
power required for such animation to work effectively, but today it is
The Tree View also comes out of work at PARC. I am glad to see the
results of Xerox research more quickly winding up in commercially viable
Xerox products. To view a particular document, VR has conversion and display
routines for a large number of common Windows application file formats: word
processors, spreadsheets, graphics, and more. You don't have to have the
application that a file was created in to see the contents of the file. From
the viewers, users can fax, print, copy to clipboard, or check out for

Creating and Editing Documents

Visual Recall allows you to create or edit a document by launching
an application from within VR. Existing documents can be checked out such
that other users can not edit them until they are checked back in. Multiple
revisions are stored so that you always know what the current version of a
given document was on a given date, and what changed. When a document is
checked back in, it is automatically re-indexed so that the indexing stays
up-to-date. If you do edit a file associated with a VR document outside of a
VR session, you'll have to manually re-index that file later (using VR's
System Administration Tool).
If you start moving VR document files in the file system (with File
Manager, for example) but don't tell VR about it, you're looking for
trouble. Perhaps VR should have file management capabilities build-in. Heck,
you could almost use it as a Program Manager replacement at that point.


XSofts' TextBridge OCR software is included as a free bonus with
Visual Recall. It works with faxes or other files you already have
digitized, and it also works directly with ISIS and TWAIN scanners.


The formatted viewer was poor at formatting and printing one of the
sample Word 2.0 documents, causing strange pagination, and apparently using
courier when the document appeared to have been written with something else.
If I'd needed that document, I would have had to move to a system with Word
to work with it acceptably. This kind of thing is to be expected in release
1.0 software though, and I'd gladly put up with it if it weren't for other
Visual Recall is only available for Windows, and only works
stand-alone or with NetWare. I was surprised to find that my network drives
(mounted from a Sun via TCP/IP and NFS) were inaccessible via Visual Recall.
VR was the first app that behaved at all differently with my NFS drives than
with my local hard drives. According to the documentation, VR also "Cannot
access [W4WG peer drives] through Visual Recall."
Since VR is Windows-only, it can't deal with long file names (as
used by OS/2, for example), and workgroups with Macs and PCs are out of
luck. As you will see, both are important limitations for this kind of
VR currently does most of its work on the client, and is thus
limited to use in workgroups rather than in large enterprises. Version 2.0
of Visual Recall is expected to add server-driven indexing and searching.
VR will then be suitable for whole-enterprise use (at least in enterprises
with few non-Windows workstations).
VR does not currently support OLE 2.0, and that might be an
important limitation if you use it extensively in creating your files.


Xerox is making strong moves to live up to it's new motto of "The
Document Company." When Xerox recognizes that the world of documents isn't
Windows only and NetWare only, Visual Recall will be an excellent solution
for common problems in document indexing, retrieval, display and editing.
Until then, if you need a solution for your NetWare workgroup (not your
whole enterprise), Visual Recall is worth a long hard look. If I had a
NetWare workgroup, I wouldn't hesitate to use VR, and I'd love to see an
OS/2 version which understands NFS and LANManager.

Requires: Dos 5.0 or later, Windows 3.1 or later, 386SX20 or better (486DX33 or better
recommended), 4MB RAM (16MB recommended), 15MB free disk space

Division of Xerox Corp.

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

o o o o o o o . . . ____________________________ _____=======_____
o _____ | Jump onto | | Get into the |
.][__n_n_|DD[ ====_____ | the Future Track! | | E-MAIL CLUB! |
_/oo OOOOO oo` ooo ooo 'o^o^o o^o^o` 'o^o o^o`

Tired of seeing the message, "No Mail Waiting"? The Directory section of
the E-MAIL CLUB's Newsletter contains Personal Profiles of MEN AND WOMEN
worldwide with names and E-mail addresses. This is NOT an "adult"
service but the way to make dozens of on-line friendships with fellow
professionals, students, hobbiests, and persons with similar interests.
E-mail request to CIS: 74167,1004 * [email protected] *
[email protected] for full details.


DacEasy Accounting for DOS, v. 5
Reviewed by Michael Christensen

DacEasy Accounting, as the name implies, is easy. Ease, at least for
non-accountants like myself, is the name of the game. It runs in PC-DOS or
MS-DOS 3.1 or up, and requires only 640K of RAM.
Despite its ease of use, DacEasy Accounting has plenty of muscle.
While I was using it for a one-person sole proprietorship, it has features
that will work for any size business. It provides the option of running
multiple businesses from the same application, or, as in my case, one app
for the business and another for personal finances.
Installation is smooth, as with most software, requiring little more
than plugging in disks as ordered. Included in the installation process is
the option of installing sample files, giving you the opportunity to
practice on a dummy before diving into your own finances.
DacEasy provides a quick-start guide which, to me, was a real
blessing. It includes a section on Accounting Basics, which took much of the
pain out of the learning process. The program includes an Easy Setup option,
which lets you use templates for the initial setup, modifying them as
necessary. This is much simpler, in most cases, than starting from scratch.
The Easy Setup takes the user through a checklist of operations to set up
files for vendors, customers, products, etc.
DacEasy provides the standard accounting features, such as printing
invoices and checks. It operates with a batching system, where the user does
the transactions in various modules, and then, by posting the transactions,
the processing for all transactions is done in a batch. This method allows
modifications to the transaction files before they are actually posted to
the general ledger, and I found it to be a great convenience, especially in
the learning process. While adjustments can be made after posting, the
process is more difficult than before posting.
DacEasy provides 24 templates for forms used for billing, customer
letters, mailing labels. All the templates can be customized and
personalized or, if you prefer, you can create your own templates.
Reports are easy to generate, often with just a few keystrokes for
standard reports such as trial balances, balance sheets or income
statements. The Financial Reporter lets you create custom reports which can
be printed or exported as ASCII files into word processors, spreadsheets, or
For even more complex custom reports, DacEasy provides DacAccess, a
report module which uses a query method to select records and a publisher to
customize the report layout. The query option gives you up to 132 fields to
include, and can access multiple files. You establish criteria, which can
include complex expressions, that are used to select records for the report.
If necessary, the user can create user-defined fields for selections. Once
the query is created, a copy can be printed out to determine if the right
records are being selected, and if necessary the query can be modified.
After the query has been run, the layout of the report is done in
Publisher, formatting fields and figures as needed.
DacEasy also creates graphs, which can be saved and modified. There
is also a Quick Graphs option for viewing information on screen.
Archiving and backups are done using file compression, and can be
done from the "Posting" screen, as a safety precaution prior to posting
batches of transactions. The procedure requires only a few keystrokes, and
could prevent disaster in the event of a system failure during posting.
Documentation is extensive and complete, and the Quick Start Guide
is a wonderful beginner's guide, leading the user gently into the system.
While DacEasy may not be as user-friendly as some Windows programs, it's
easy enough to learn, and the manuals are well organized and thorough.

DacEasy, Inc.
17950 Preston Road
Suite 800
Dallas, Texas 75252
(800) DAC-EASY

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

Review by Tim Cook

Catalog-On-A-Disk is a maturing marketing product. The authors tout

it as "The selling tool of the '90's". They may be right! I had the pleasure
of using version 4 for this review.
The installation was simple and straight forward. The install
program recommends a default directory but allows the user to assign a
substitute and will create it if it doesn't exist. Program setup is very
simple but be careful. The first time you run setup you are required to
brand your original diskette. This can be any string up to 72 characters in
length such as a company name or catchy slogan. This brand is used to help
protect your catalog from tampering. There is also a very important note in
the manual about order number field size. Be sure to read this before
creating your catalogs.
Beyond the setup section, the manual contains a short tutorial on
creating your own catalogs. I emphasize the word short. I also found it a
bit confusing because there are errors in this section that appear to be
where the tutorial had changed probably between versions. I'm sure the
manuals will come with an erratum sheet for these in the future.
Chapter 2 is titled, "All About Catalogs" in my opinion this should
be "Design Tips". It does cover some useful information about how and why
to use COAD.
Chapter 3 is "Parts of a Catalog." This section is a must read and
understand chapter. Here you'll find information on which files do what and
what file extensions are mandatory.
The rest of the 150+ page manual covers the various features and how
to use the utility programs included.
COAD is a feature rich application. As I went through the list I
couldn't find anything that might be missing. From the customers point of
view the delivered system is very easy to use. If your customer has a
computer I'll bet they can review the catalog and complete the order
process. The customer only needs to know that the ENTER key advances a
screen or pops up a data entry box, the ESCAPE key will abort an entry or go
back one screen and number keys enter quantity of items or select from a
list of options such as color or size of the item ordered. A completed order
can be printed locally and sent via normal snail mail or saved as an ASCII
file for faxing or Email. There is a utility included for sending files via
modem to a BBS and EmmaSoft has a demo of the process on their support
board. A complete well-planned menu driven catalog should yield many new
customers, or at least make many of your current ones happy.
How easy it is for customers to use is one issue. The other is the
amount of work involved in creating a catalog. The demonstration catalog
that ships with COAD shows-off it's capabilities very well, but putting all
those features into your catalog will require a lot of planning and some
study. If you've done any programming it will be a little easier. READ the
manual first! If you want to save time and avoid frustration you must
understand how catalogs are stored and created. The COAD user interface is
basically CUA compliant, but some of the terminology used in the menus I
didn't find intuitive. Reading the manual corrected most of this. This is
not a slam on the product, but a fact that must be faced when you have an
application with this level of flexibility. COAD allows you to customize
everything from the entry screen to the order forms. Various discount, sales
tax, shipping methods and pricing options are available. Custom forms,
information screens, command files to run external programs and surveys can
be added to your catalog.
I found their technical support prompt, courteous and knowledgeable.
The version reviewed here was the COAD-Plus version 4. I located the
shareware flavor of version 4 on several BBS's and a couple of shareware
CD's. While the shareware version doesn't allow you to create a catalog
with all these features nor does it include the extra utilities, it will
give you an idea of the quality product this company markets. If you sell
anything mail order, you should try out this marketing tool.

EmmaSoft Software Company, Inc.
PO Box 238
Lansing, NY 14882-0238
Voice: 607-533-4685
BBS: 607-533-3685
EMail: [email protected]

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

CashGraf Business Plus
Reviewed by Michael Christensen

It's called CashGraf, but it isn't simply an accounting package.
CashGraf Business Plus is a full package which combines accounting
functions, word processing, databases and graphics in a Windows-based,
easy-to-use format. While the manual isn't always easy to understand, and
some of the user-friendliness verges on cutsey and patronizing, these are
balanced out by the downright usefulness of many of its features.
CashGraf uses a Tommy Target character (symbolic of Target Software
Group) as its help icon. I found Tommy, a bald street-tough sort of guy with
dark glasses, to be a little silly for a serious business package, but after
using the program for a while, I learned to ignore him.
The package also includes a 90-minute instructional and explanatory
video, complete with a package of microwave popcorn. The video, of course,
is useful; the popcorn is a nice touch.
You don't need an accounting degree to use this product, but despite
its ease of use, some accounting background is very useful. My financial
expertise is minimal, and I found myself struggling in the early stages of
setting up. However, the ease of use and extensive menu options in this
package made the learning process pretty painless. After working with it for
a few days, I was feeling pretty comfortable with the accounting process.
This is a package designed for ease of use, especially for those with little
computing experience.
I wondered about Target Software's strong-arm tactics for requiring
software registration. If you don't register within 10 days of first using
it, the software freezes you out until you call technical support and
register. This may be acceptable for a shareware product where payment isn't
always guaranteed, but it seems a bit intense for a prepaid product. Even
though the registration process was relatively quick and easy, the
heavy-handed approach was disconcerting.
CashGraf requires 4 MB of RAM, but the manufacturer recommends 8 MB,
and I agree. I encountered General Protection faults a couple of times, and
I attribute that to overloading the memory on my 4-MB system.
CashGraf gives you the option of creating departments from scratch
or modifying one of several pre-installed templates. For most users, it's
probably easiest to use the templates and modify them as needed, as the
addition and editing process is quite simple.
You can create departments and sub-departments for practically any
need. Since I was using CashGraf for a one-person sole proprietorship, I
created a separate department for my personal finances, which included
sub-departments for investments, savings, bills, loans, etc. The package
provides flexible budgeting, goal-setting and tracking, reminders of bills
to pay, and pretty much everything you'd expect from business accounting
The banking portion allows you to create up to 99 bank accounts, for
which you can write checks from the screen. When checks are written, the
software updates the check register (which is instantly available at the
click of a button), and shows current and year-to-date balances on the
on-screen "checkstub." The checks can then be printed or, in the case of
hand-written checks, simply saved.
It also includes a daily planner and notebook for appointments,
to-do lists, reminders, and notes, which is quickly accessible from any
screen. It also includes an alarm feature. When the alarm goes off, a
cartoon alarm clock appears on the screen with a clamoring bell: another
cutsey touch, I thought, but tolerable.
Also in the daily planner is a daily financial ledger which displays
bills to pay and invoices due, from which it determines net cash flow. A
phone list can access entries from any of the CashGraf databases.
Several databases are built in for keeping track of clients,
vendors, users and employees. These databases are searchable, and you can
set up query-style profiles as well. The profile search screens provide for
several user-definable variables. Once a profile search is completed, the
results can be used with a mail merge for letters or labels, or it can be
printed to the screen or printer in report form.
While the databases are pretty complete in their setup, I'd have
preferred a few user-definable fields as well. The databases allow automatic
dial-up for fax or voice. There is also a database for telephone scripts.
The word processor is a nifty feature that looks similar to Word for
Windows. It has the standard Windows-style menu bars, and clipboard
functions as Word, including a spell checker and search-and-replace.
Graphics can be imported into documents, and card-file records can be
accessed from it. The word processor can create letters, memos, even large
documents and books. While it resembles Microsoft Word, it won't "save as"
an MS Word or WordPerfect document. However, it will export as ASCII and
The mail-merge function of the word processor can access any of the
CashGraf databases to create letters or labels.
The "Graphs" option can be used to quickly and easily create graphs
and charts in a variety of formats. Once created, they are easy to modify,
and can be output to screen or printer. Graphs can also be printed in report
The help screens, with the cartoon Tommy Target icon, were not as
comprehensive as I would have liked, especially in view of the fact that the
User's Manual is also not very exhaustive. On several occasions, I was
unable to find information I needed in either the "Ask Tommy" help files or
the manual's index, and often resorted to trial-and-error or "menu-surfing"
to find the answers I needed. The User's Manual consists mainly of
flowchart-style charts, paired with illustrations of menus and screens, with
limited explanations of options and procedures. While this format makes the
manual very easy and convenient, some completeness is sacrificed in the name
of user-friendliness. The index is incomplete, most noticeably when the user
is searching for detailed explanations of particular menu items. There are
many menu items which are simply not listed in the index, and therefore
require almost a page-by-page search.
Overall, I found CashGraf Business Plus to be a useful and complete
package for any size business, especially for those with little previous
computer experience. Its ease of use more than makes up for the
documentation limitations, and the cutsey and condescending touches are
minimal and ignorable.

Business Plus retails for $299.

Target Software Group, Inc.
2901 58th Ave. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33714
(800) 872-4381

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

The 11 Million Businesses Phone Book
Reviewed by Eliot M. Gelwan

A program like this represents the flip side of the current love
affair with multimedia that has made a CD-ROM drive standard issue on most
new PCs. Dull but immensely practical, it utilizes enormous storage capacity
not for flashy sound or images but merely copious textual data. This is not
entertainment by any stretch of the imagination - merely what is probably
the most comprehensive listing of US and Canadian business listings
available on CD-ROM , compiled from over 5,000 Yellow Pages directories and
other sources. The price is right enough - $49 - that I believe I can
forgive it its few weaknesses.
The disk comes with both DOS and Windows versions. Unless you read
the manual, it'd probably take some figuring out that you install the DOS
version by running "install.exe" and the Windows version via "setup.exe."
The user interface in both is simple and nothing to write home about but it
gets the job done. One searches by filling in the blanks in the search
fields. You can search by business name (or even just a portion of it)
across all of North America or narrow the search by state, city, zip code or
area code. You can also do a so-called "reverse search" to find the name of
the business when you enter a phone number. (Handy, for example, for those
of you who want to find out which of those phone messages comes from a
creditor you've been trying to duck before you return the call!)
The search engine is not very rapid. On my fast 486 computer and
slow CD-ROM drive, at least, the limiting factor seems to be CD-ROM access
time. This is unfortunate, because in a quirky fashion you can only enter
search criteria one step at a time. For example, let's say I'm trying to
find the phone number of "Andy's Diner" in my home town, using "Andy" as my
search term. I have to wait for the program to pull up all the businesses in
the US and Canada with the name "Andy" in them before I can tell it to
narrow the selections to those in Cambridge, MA with a second round of
searching through the previously retrieved set. By the way, it didn't find
the Andy's I was seeking, one of the best breakfast joints in Cambridge.
(Thankfully, you don't have to call to make a reservation for breakfast
there yet.) It did, however, find many of the other quirky local businesses
I set as a task for it.
After playing with the program, it's clear to me that you can't
exactly use it in lieu of the Yellow Pages, for the simple reason that you
can't look businesses up by category. If I tried to find a nearby
electrician, for example, I'd be restricted to businesses that had the
search word - i.e., "electric" - in their name as listed. You also wouldn't
be able to use it if you were, for example, a marketer trying to build
mailing lists of likely prospects. For one thing, while the program tells
you what street a business is on when you look it up, it doesn't show its
address on the street. And while you can print a single listing out or have
the program's auto-dialer call the number for you, you can't save a listing
or listings to disk (although users of the Windows version, of course, can
get around this by "printing" to disk) or copy it to the Windows clipboard
to paste into another application.
Furthermore, the program is metered by a proprietary system which
makes the disc unusable after 5,000 "look-ups" or a year, whichever comes
first.. By the way, I happened to notice that that's 5000 in each version.
The DOS and the Windows programs are metered separately. Users might install
only one version and not figure this out It seems to me, on the other hand,
that 5,000 is probably plenty for most casual users. (Unless you have an
awful lot of creditors to duck - just kidding!) The company justifies their
metering system by arguing that, despite the massive volume of their
database, they can charge the consumer a low price based on the premise that
they will probably actually never need more than a small amount of that
I think American Business Information, the publisher of this CD-ROM,
intends this program to be a kind of "loss leader" to gain business for
their consulting and direct marketing enterprises. The company's annual
report is included in the program's packaging, which is geared much more
toward profiling ABIs' other services including a full on-line database of
the same 11 million businesses including much more information on each, such
as credit rating, sales volume, and names of owners and managers, "making
business to business marketing possible." Arguing that there is "no
substitute for telephone verification.", they say they update this database
by a laborious annual process of over 14 million phone calls. They also use,
they recount, corporate annual reports, government data, business magazines
and newsletters, and the Post Office's National Change of Address program to
ensure the accuracy of their data. Even if it is only an afterthought in
ABIs' scheme of things, however, the 11 Million Businesses Phone Book are
beneficiaries of this effort.

System Requirements: Minimum RAM: 640K (Windows version), 420K (DOS) ,
Minimum 2 MB available disk space (3 MB with sound), MS-DOS 3.3 or higher
(for DOS version), or Windows 3.1 (for Windows version), CD-ROM drive with
Microsoft CD-ROM extensions ver. 2.1 or higher, Optional: Soundblaster card
(for spoken phone number capability), Hayes compatible modem (for
auto-dialling capability)

American Business Information
5711 South 86th Circle, P.O. Box 27347
Omaha Nebraska 68127-7347
phone: (402) 593-4595
fax: (402) 331-6681

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

. (c) 1989-1993
USR HST/DS (216) 381-3320 PC-Ohio, Inc
HAYES V.FC (216) 691-3030
:::.::::::::::: ...
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=====" "" :::::::.:.::." """""""""".::::
= === """ ::::::.:....::""""" """" ".::::
::::::::.::.....""" " """"""::...:::
:::::::::::::"" """ """""""" ::

Sysop: Norm Henke
Asst. Sysop: Doc White
Asst. Sysop: Joyce Henke
Post Office Box 21411
Cleveland, Ohio 44121
The Best BBS in America!

Communications Software

Taming the Wild Kitty
Running a Wildcat! 4 BBS
Review by Jacci Howard Bear

It's a jungle out there in the world of BBS software. Wildcat! 4.0
is the newest breed of cat from Mustang Software, Inc. (MSI). Wildcat has
fanatic fans and faultfinders. Because you choose your BBS software based on
your own needs and the demands of your new or existing BBS, you should
listen to both sides--what they say and what they don't say--then make the
best choice for your own situation.
Wildcat 4 easily molds itself to a variety of BBS configurations. It
is simple enough for the beginning Sysop to setup and run in short order,
yet powerful and flexible enough to meet the needs of the experienced BBS
operator. It's not without a few oddities that might not suit
everyone--we'll discuss some of those later. But mostly, I find it to be a
great program.

Explore the Jungle

Before looking at specific BBS software choices, including Wildcat
4, consider why you want a BBS. Software varies greatly in the way it
handles files, messages, subscriptions, access, and multiple lines. Also
consider how well it integrates with other programs you'll need such as
games, databases, and faxes. What you want out of your BBS helps determine
what software you need to put into it.
There are two general types of bulletin board systems--hobby and
professional. Within each type are many varieties.
Amateur or Hobbyist. Many amateur boards have true "professional"
Sysops. However, you will find that these boards are generally free or run
on donations from callers. The BBS may be public--accepting any and all
callers or a private board that you may never even know exists until the
Sysop tells you about it and grants you access. These hobby boards may be
"generalist" or cater to special interests.
A common misconception is that all BBSs carry hundreds of files,
games, and X-rated material. Nothing could be further from the truth. My own
BBS is a free public board with only a handful of files (all rated G), no
games, and a slant toward home business and desktop publishing. A local
networking group also uses my board as an "on-line home." Other hobby boards
may specialize in Genealogy or Country Music or live chat. Big or small,
making money is not the purpose of a hobby BBS. It's pure pleasure or a
"labor of love." On being a Sysop, Cathy Keller, of Austin, says, "I love
it! It's nice giving something back to the community, and it's fun facing
the vast assortment of challenges one finds as a Sysop."
Professional or Business. Boards that charge fees, customer or
technical support, and product information boards make up the other major
classification of bulletin board systems. These are usually run by
companies, and private networks for company employees or organization
members. Some of the professional boards may operate exactly like the Hobby
boards described above but charge a subscription or use a 900 number for
access. Companies and organizations run a BBS network for employees or
members or, as a way to disseminate company or product news. They may even
take orders on-line.

Panther, Lion, or Household Tabby

Wildcat 4 comes in four versions--Single Line, MultiLine 10,
MultiLine 250, and MultiLine Platinum. The version you need depends on the
size and scope of your BBS as well as your equipment. The Wildcat 4 manual
describes a number of typical BBS setups. Described here are three real BBSs
using three different versions of Wildcat.
My BBS, The Bear Necessities, running on a "homemade" 286 with 1 MB
of RAM, uses the Single Line version. MSI recommends this version for the
"entry level BBS for the small business person, hobbyist or special interest
group." That fits my BBS perfectly. Cathy Keller runs two Wildcat 4 BBSs.
Dingle Delaware uses the MultiLine 10 version, which can handle up to 4
dial-in lines. An "all-purpose" BBS that covers a wide range of topics,
multiple lines allow the BBS to accept more callers and callers get through
to the BBS more easily (fewer busy signals). E-source, operated by the Texas
General Land Office is "part of our efforts to make information easily
available to the general public on such issues as recycling, alternative
fuels, sustainable energy, etc." says Ms. Keller. This BBS runs on the
MultiLine 250 version of Wildcat 4. It also can handle up to 4 dial-in lines
and MSI recommends it for the "medium to large sized LAN E-mail or corporate
communications system requiring b al network access ... and only a small
number of dial-up lines." The MultiLine Platinum version is recommended for
medium to large LAN E-mail or corporate communications. Or, for large
multi-user public or private BBSs with up to 8 incoming telephone lines per
workstation. The MultiLine Platinum works with a wider range of serial
devices than the others and supports multiport serial boards.
Ms. Keller believes that "there's a real misconception about Wildcat
being only a package for hobbyists. It's very powerful for use within a
business setting as well. Because of the ease of use, the callers to the
business BBS perceive that you've gone the extra mile to accommodate them.
... it's smart business using something that is easy, makes your customers
feel comfortable, and that hasn't bankrupted you in the process."

Let the Cat out of the Bag (or Box)

With some software, installation and initial setup is the hardest
part. With others, it's the only easy part of the process. Setting up a BBS
requires careful use of resources and hardware. Do you have enough hard
drive space? Memory? Will it work with your modem? Do you prefer a different
directory structure? Are you running Windows or DESQview or OS/2 or on a
network? Will it work with your other existing software such as that
required for some mail gateways like Fido Net or Internet?
Wildcat 4 offers menu-driven installation that does most of the work
for you, yet allows you to customize directory names and control which files
the program installs. As with any program, a basic understanding of
DOS--especially editing your AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files--is
desirable. If you don't feel confident enough to do this on your own, find a
friend to help you or buy a good book on DOS.
Many Sysops consider the ability to customize their BBS the number
one consideration when choosing BBS software. But custom-tailoring takes
time and often a Sysop is in a hurry to get their new board on-line. Seeing
and working with "live" menus, rather than just pictures in a manual, is
also a good way to help you decide exactly how you want to change the look
and feel of your BBS. Wildcat 4 comes with pre-configured screens and a
"basic setup" that gets you up and running quickly. (The manual says "in 1
hour or less." It took me a little longer than that but I encountered some
special problems--described later.) Sooner or later though, you're going to
want to ... customize!

Put the Stripes or Spots on the Cat

My old software was downright flexible. I could make my BBS look and
act any number of ways. The problem was that I had to read volumes of
instructions and then "hand write" the configuration files. That is, I
created each custom menu or script in a generic text editor, with no on-line
help, using cryptic commands that were (to me, anyway) less than obvious as
to their use and purpose.
On the other hand, Wildcat 4 makes customization easy with
menu-driven configuration programs and a program for drawing great-looking
screens. The Wildcat 4 manual is thorough in most areas; but, it doesn't go
into enough detail about using the wcDRAW program (for drawing those great
screens). I would welcome a separate manual with color screens and examples.
Along with screens and menus, you may want to create access profiles
(certain callers will have access to different parts of the BBS), special
conference and file areas, bulletins, on-line questionnaires, and more. The
easier it is to customize your BBS, the sooner you can turn your attention
to enjoying your new board--knowing you have a truly unique
system--different from all the others in town.
Menus. Menus are screens that allow the caller to navigate your
system. In Wildcat 4 a menu item can display a text file such as a news
bulletin or newsletter, go to another menu, perform built-in functions
including file uploads, downloads, scanning conferences for messages, and
more. Each menu can have its own RIP, ANSI, ASCII, or a generic dynamic
display screen. You can hide certain commands and areas of your BBS from all
or some callers through the use of security profiles. Each security profile
can have their own tailor-made menus up to a maximum of 650 menus.
Bulletins & Newsletters. The Sysop creates these special text files
and displays them to callers either automatically or as a menu choice.
Bulletins might contain helpful advice about your system, business,
organization, or anything you wish.
Questionnaires. Wildcat 4 has 4 types of questionnaires. You can
edit the existing questionnaires or create your own. Some uses for
questionnaires include on-line order entry, surveys, voting, and gathering
addresses, phone numbers, and other caller information.
Messages. One of the most fascinating and fun features of a bulletin
boards system is the message capabilities. Through messages written on-line,
you can get to know your callers or they can meet other callers to your
board. If you join a network, then you can exchange messages with other
people in the network--across town or across the globe. A BBS may have both
local conferences that exist only on that BBS, plus "echo" conferences that
include messages from users throughout the network on other BBSs.
Wildcat 4 supports up to 32,760 message conferences with up to
65,520 messages per conference. (More than I'll ever need!) Message
conference types include public and private messages, Fido Net-style private
netmail, Internet E-Mail, and public Usenet Newsgroup messages. Users can
scan and mark messages based on sender, receiver, subject, text, message
number, and conference. The message editors (for entering new messages or
replies) support spellchecking and quoting. You can setup message
conferences on an individual basis to allow forwarding, carbon copies,
return receipts, and file attachments. They can also be Read Only, Write
Only, Join Only or any of the three combined. Also, each message conference
can have its own set of bulletins, menus, questionnaires, help files, and
display screens.
Files. Considered the "most important feature" by many BBS callers,
some Sysops take great pride in providing callers with the largest number of
downloadable files possible. The more files that are available to callers,
the greater the need for software that makes it easy for users to search and
find specific files and download them. It must also be easy for the Sysop to
add, delete, inspect, and move files, and edit file names and descriptions.
If the software you are considering has limited file management
capabilities, look for the existence of third party utilities that add these
Like message conferences, Wildcat 4 handles a maximum of 32,760 file
areas and a mind-boggling total of 2 billion files. The file areas feature
the most popular transfer protocols and support for external protocols.
Files can have short and long file descriptions. A thumbnail option allows
preview of GIF files. Multi-changer CD-ROM support extends your file areas
beyond the limits of your hard drive. Other features include indexing; virus
scan; password protection; duplicate file names; and built-in support for
Ms. Keller calls the underlying structure of Wildcat 4's message and
file databases "a double-edged sword." She cites fast scanning of message
and file areas as a plus for the user. On the other hand, the way the it
builds message areas makes nightly maintenance almost a requirement. In my
own case, my BBS computer has a small hard drive. With hundreds of messages
coming in daily it fills up fast. Although MSI does provide utilities for
trimming back the messages it doesn't provide a way to trim messages "on the
fly"--replacing older messages with newer ones rather than just adding to
the database.

Multiple Wildcat-egories

Wildcat 4's security profiles are one of its most valuable features.
At first I didn't understand their full potential but the more I work with
the software the more I learn. With security profiles you can customize your
BBS for a variety of purposes and users. Based on their security profile,
you can give one group of users access to certain message or file areas only
or just certain functions. With up to 1000 security profiles available, you
could make it appear that you are running 1000 different BBSs! As an
example, perhaps you want to run a BBS for your Cross-stitch Club and
another BBS with on-line games and technical computer discussion areas--both
using the same phone number, computer, and software. By assigning the
members of your Cross-stitch Club one security profile, and the game
players/computer buffs another profile you can hide portions of the BBS from
each group. The menus, bulletins, available file areas, and message
conferences would appear different to each t caller.

Dog & Cat Fights

At some point, or from the beginning, you may want to expand your
BBS to include a message or file network such as Fido Net, Postlink, or the
Internet. These networks consist of message conferences or groups of files
that Sysops transfer among all BBSs that belong to that network. Callers to
your BBS can read and post their own messages to the conferences that the
network then routes from system to system. Some networks cover small
geographic areas or have set discussion subjects. Others may be
international in scope or carry hundreds of topics. The file networks allow
you to receive automatically certain types of files or request specific
If this type of expansion is important to you--be aware that not all
BBS software packages meet the specific requirements that some networks
place on message formats or transfer methods. Or, they may require extra
programs to work right. I found out almost immediately that Wildcat 4 is not
"Fido-friendly" straight out of the box. When I started The Bear
Necessities, I knew I wanted to connect to Fido Net--one of the oldest
volunteer networks in the world. The author of my original BBS software
specifically designed it to handle Fido Net messaging requirements and to
work flawlessly with a number of other programs required for network
Wildcat 4 will work with Fido Net netmail and echo mail. But it
needs help. A small but growing number of utilities are available from other
vendors--most are shareware--that handle the special needs of Fido Net plus
work with Wildcat. Help with connecting to most networks has to come from
other Sysops. The MSI support staff can't provide much help on that front.
But there are a lot of Wildcat Sysops out there willing to assist. If you
now use an earlier version of Wildcat, you may find that your current
utilities (front-end, mail tosser, etc.) will need upgrading to work with
the significant changes in Wildcat 4.
The recent deluge of books, articles, and television shows about the
"Information Superhighway" has many new and old Sysops itching to explore
one of its main thoroughfares--the Internet. MSI offers an add-on program
for Wildcat 4 called wcGATE. This program, coupled with a UUCP account from
an Internet provider makes Internet E-mail, Usenet Newsgroups, and uuencoded
file transfers available to the Wildcat 4 BBS. wcGATE also works with
Novels' MHS server for MHS E-mail and file attaches.

Free Kittens

In addition to the wcDRAW program mentioned earlier, Wildcat 4 has
other essential utility programs that make setup, maintenance, and operation
easier. wcMAIL is a QWK-compatible mail door that creates packets of
messages, bulletins, and file lists for callers to download and read
off-line with their favorite QWK mail reader. wcFILE handles maintenance of
the file areas while you use wcPACK to trim the number of messages by date
or number. wcMODEM helps set up your modem to work with Wildcat 4. wcCHAT is
the program for live chat between users (on a multi-line/multi-node system).
wcECHO gives you the ability to participate in echomail systems that use the
QWK-style message networking. These programs are all part of the Wildcat 4

Kittens for Sale

MSI provides some utility programs for separate purchase to expand
the capabilities of your BBS. In addition to the wcGATE software for
Internet/MHS, there is wcPRO with wcFAX that adds more powerful database
functions to manage your user records, files, messages, and more. The wcFAX
program adds fax-on-demand capabilities. Another powerful program that
benefits every Wildcat 4 Sysop--whether they have the program or not--is
wcCODE. It is a development tool that allows Sysops to write programs for
their own BBS or to give (or sell) to other Sysops. Ms. Keller notes that
"there are legions of Wildcat Sysops writing wcCODE applications to fill in
whatever gaps one may feel there are with Wildcat 4. They're easy to
implement and many of them are either free or exceptionally low cost."

When Kitty Ignores the Litter Box

Even the best software in the world has its "bad hairball days."
Because your callers, your business, or your club depend on your BBS, you
need to know that help is readily available when things go wrong.
MSI makes help easy to find. On MSI's own Wildcat BBS I found the
guidance and programs I needed to connect my Wildcat BBS to Fido Net. I've
also found answers in the Mustang Software section of CompuServe. Mustang
has support sections on Genie and America On-line too. They also have an
Internet mailing address for tech support, a voice support number, and their
own MSI SupportNET echo conferences carried on boards around the world. You
not only get fast, friendly support from their own staff, but in the on-line
conferences you can share experiences with hundreds of other new and
experienced Wildcat Sysops.

A Wild, Wild Ride

I wish I could say that the switch from my previous software to
Wildcat 4 was seamless and painless, for my callers and myself. The Fido Net
connection problems caused a few extra gray hairs. However, the installation
of Wildcat 4 and setting up the basic operation of the BBS couldn't have
been easier. Like some other powerful programs I've reviewed, I found myself
caught up in some of the "fun" features and trying to use utilities that I
hadn't taken time to study. Now I'm ready to slow down, take my time, and
fully explore this feature-rich program. The mail is flowing so now it's
time to "make it pretty" too.
I just celebrated my first anniversary as a Sysop and I look forward
to my first anniversary as a Wildcat Sysop. Perhaps later on, I can bring
you some more tales about my jungle explorations and Wildcat encounters. As
a longtime user of Wildcat 3 and 4, Cathy Keller guided me through some of
the steps of switching to Wildcat. She tells me, "this is going to sound
sappy, but I'm really proud to be a Wildcat Sysop." She and I both happily
recommend it to any new or experienced Sysop. But, like any software
package, choose it because it has the features you need--not just because it
gets rave reviews.

Wildcat! Single Line (version reviewed)
Recommended Software:
DOS 3.3 or higher
Recommended Hardware:
IBM AT or true compatible, 512K RAM, high density floppy, 15 MB hard
drive space, RS232 serial port with external modem and cable or internal
modem, voice grade telephone line.

Wildcat! MultiLine 10 and 250
Recommended Software:
DOS 3.3 or higher, DESQview 386, OS/2, or Windows, for multiple lines on
one PC. Network applications require Novell Netware or LAN software that
uses DOS SHARE for file and record locking.

Recommended Hardware:
Multitasking on a single PC: 386-33mhz or higher with 1-2 MB RAM per
dial-in node, hard drive. LAN connections: IBM AT or true compatible,
512K RAM, no floppy required. A serial port and external modem or
internal modem and voice grade telephone line is required for each
incoming modem connection.

Wildcat! MultiLine Platinum
Recommended Software:
DOS 3.3 or higher, DESQview 386, OS/2, or Windows,
for multiple lines on one PC. Network applications require Novell
Netware or LAN software that uses DOS SHARE for file and record locking.

Recommended Hardware:
Minimum 486-33, 8-16 MB RAM, hard drive. Serial
I/O boards required to run 8 lines are PC/8e or PC/8i Digiboard with
connecting cable or multi-port serial card that is FOSSIL compatible. An
external modem and voice grade telephone line are required for each
incoming modem connection.

Mustang Software, Inc.
6200 Lake Ming Road
Bakersfield, CA 93303

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

Delrina Communications Suite 2.1
Review by Wayne A. MacLeod

Comm Suite 2.1 is Delrinas latest entry into the communications and
fax field. It consists of two separate, but complimentary programs,
WinComm Pro 1.1 and WinFax Pro 4.0. While many of its competitors have
chosen to integrate their communication and fax programs into one
application making them somewhat smaller and more closely integrated,
Delrina has opted to stay with two applications. There are pros and cons to
both approaches, but I personally prefer Delrinas approach.
We, CyberNews, previously reviewed the Delrina Suite in our very
first issue. Rather than try to "reword" the review, this review will
concentrate more on changes since the last review and personal impressions
Delrina provides a Master Install Disk that allows you to customize
your installation. You can install either WinComm Pro or WinFax pro or
both. There are options for a full, custom or laptop installation. The
laptop install allows you to install only the minimum files needed to run
the programs in order to conserve disk space. The custom installs allow the
choice of several options beyond the minimal install
WinFax Pro offers the ability to install OCR, optical character
recognition, support which allows the conversion of fax image files into
text files that can be edited. There are included application macros that
provide for simplified faxing from some MS programs such as MS Word for
Windows and AmiPro. These macros add an option to the applications File
menus that allow direct faxing from these products. There is an option to
install support for several different Electronic Mail systems such as MS
Mail 3.0, cc:Mail 1.1/2.0, Novell MHS 1.5 and Lotus Notes 3.0. If you have a
supported Mail system installed, setup will auto-detect. Cover Your Fax
offers the ability to install more than 100 cover pages into categorized
WinComm allows you to install pre-defined phone book entries that
provide scripts to connect with most major on-line systems such as
CompuServe and Delphi. You can also opt to install the files needed to run
WinComm in Host mode, basically a personal BBS. There are conversion
programs that allow you to use phone book entries from selected other
communication programs and save you a little input time. You can choose to
install the DCAPI (Delrina Corporation Application Programming Interface)
Manual and examples. There is the option to install Internet Messenger. IM
is an application geared to making use of Internet Email quick and simple.
It provides scripts that allow you to connect to and subscribe to various
providers of Internet Email connectivity throughout the country. You can
also use IM with your current Internet connection.
I am extremely impressed with WinFax Pro 4.0. I had heard some
things about earlier versions that had caused me some concern, but from all
indications, Delrina has corrected these problems and produced a fine
program. On a personal level, I am quite happy that Delrina has chosen to
support the CAS standards for Intel Satisfaxtion modems while many of its
competitors have written it off as proprietary. My faxing experiences, both
send and receive were flawless. The enclosed cover pages are both functional
and fun. I need to delete some of the samples to conserve disk space, but am
having a difficult time doing so as they are all so good. Improvements added
to version 4.0 include the AdapTable( interface which allows you to
customize the look and feel of the program in many ways. There is support
for drag and drop faxing and user defined toolbars. A Quick cover page is
provided when you do not need one of the many graphical pre-defined covers
provided which allows you to use your g o and import text files into the
message area. Also added are on the fly file attachments, enhancements to
the fax viewer, spell checker for the cover pages and auto forwarding of
received faxes.
WinFax offers several hardware/system dependent features. As I
previously stated, the Intel CAS standard is supported which allows for file
transfers and true background faxing. I love being able to receive faxes
without having to load WinFax. Fax-a-File(, another binary file transfer by
fax specification is supported for those with capable fax modems. Remote
retrieval of information by polling is supported from those services that
provide such and you can also poll your own system from a remote location to
retrieve faxes from your Receive log. ECM, Error Correction Mode, is
supported for sends and receives when both ends are capable of ECM. Networks
with supported Mail Systems can use WinFax to send and receive mail and tie
their fax and mail together.
WinComm is a very capable Windows communication program with all the
features and abilities one would expect. I personally did not care for the
look and feel of WinComm, but could not find any functional difficulties.
The program, like WinFax Pro, is highly customizable so I am not sure what
it is about the look and feel that I do not like, it is just one of those
things and not a reflection on the program itself. It goes out of its way to
offer many, many features and possibilities and that may be the problem.
There are so many features that I had some difficulty finding the things
that I wanted to set up the way I am used to running my comm programs.
Improvements and additions to version 1.1 include integration with
the Internet Messenger program previously described. A GIF viewer that
allows you to view GIF files as they are downloaded or that reside on your
system. Support for the RPI, Rockwell Protocol Interface, has been added.
The implementation of RPI technology into some modems is controversial and
generally considered in a negative light, but it is nice to see a major
player in the communications arena add support for those users who have such
a modem. Individual session windows can have the number of rows and columns
adjusted to personal preference and custom colors can be selected. Queuing
of multiple numbers for a session is allowed providing the convenience of
having the program dial a secondary number automatically if the primary
number is busy. Many of the events in WinComm can now have sounds associated
with them allowing you audible notification of connections, file transfer
completions and such. Support for a il systems. The memory requirements for
running WinComm have been reduced allowing for more efficient multi-tasking.
Delrinas CommSuite 2.1 is a very nice package, I love WinFax Pro and
find WinComm as good as the competition and would have no problem
recommending the package to anyone looking for a full featured package.
System requirements vary depending upon the install option selected
as far as disk space and memory requirements. You will need a Windows 3.1
compatible system running in enhanced mode, at least 4 MB of memory with 8
MB recommended, and a Win 3.1 supported graphics adapter. A modem is needed
and it must have Class I, Class II, CAS, Worldport or SendFax capability to
use WinFax. Pro install both programs, you will need from 11 MB to 21 MB of
HD space.

6830 Via Del Oro
Suite 240
San Jose, CA 95119-9940
(408) 363-2345

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for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

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Educational Software / Book Reviews

Wild Blue Yonder
Episode 1: 50 years of G's and Jets
Review by Danny Williams

"Falcon 96-Bravo, you are cleared for takeoff runway three-one, maximum
performance departure approved."
You grin at the inside of your oxygen mask. In this aircraft,
"maximum performance" means straight up like an Otis elevator. You wait a
second or two so whoever wants to watch the fun has time to get a view.
"Roger, tower. I'll stop the fun at 14,000 feet or so. Falcon 96-Bravo is
...and then you wake up. Rats, that's not a G-suit, it's just your
Power Rangers blanket wrapped around your legs. Shake yourself loose, fire
up your multimedia computer (PC or Mac) and slide in a caddy holding the
Wild Blue Yonder CD. It's not quite a ride with the Blue Angels, but at
least you can learn about the equipment they use to put on those stunning
First of all, Wild Blue Yonder is not another jet simulator. In
fact, it's not a flight simulator at all. Instead it is a information trove
about military jet aircraft reaching from the beginnings with the Nazi's Me
262 and the Bell XP-59 Airacomet to the latest B-2 Stealth Bomber and the
recently canceled V-22 Osprey. There are 20 aircraft in all on the disk,
divided into four major categories. The categories and aircraft are laid out
as follows:

The Jet Age: XP-59 Airacomet, F-86 Sabre, Bell X-1, Me 262, B-47

Vietnam: B-52 Stratofortress, F-105 Thunderchief, A-6 Intruder, F-4
Phantom, SR-71 Blackbird.

Desert Storm: F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-14 Tomcat, F-117
Nighthawk (a.k.a. Stealth Fighter), MiG29 Fulcrum.

Tomorrow: YF-22 Lighting II, V-22 Osprey, X-31 EFM, B-2 Stealth, X-29 ATD.

Running the program presents you with a screen showing the title of
each of the four categories and an aircraft representative of that period.
Pick one, and be shown the corresponding list of aircraft.
Each aircraft has several different kinds of information available.
While perusing the list of options such as Stories, Specifications, Cockpit,
or Weapons, you can enjoy music from the period like Elton John's 1972
"Rocket Man" or "Mona Lisa" from 1949. The music stops, of course, when you
are reviewing the Performance section and wish to hear the engines roaring
in your ears. Of course, nothing in your living room can quite capture the
sound and smell and feeling of four 1,000 horsepower radial engines live in
person, but at least you can get the idea. Of course, your mileage will vary
by the quality of your speakers.
Although the engine sounds and performance data and the film clips
(both flight and interviews) were excellent, I most enjoyed the cockpit
presentations. For each airplane, you may view the cockpit and a list of
what is in the cockpit. As your mouse pointer slides over an object on the
instrument panel (say, an altimeter), the word "Altimeter" in the list
lights up and a red box is drawn around the altimeter. Keep rolling your
mouse and all the items are properly identified. It works the other way, too
-- rolling over a name in the list ("where the heck is the IFF parrot?")
will draw the red box in the picture. I enjoyed imagining a mission in the
"office" of each of these significant birds. The accurate photos made it a
Wild Blue Yonder comes with a thin booklet that does double duty as
an installation/troubleshooting manual and a "yearbook" for each of the
time periods addressed in the CD. Instructions are thin for good reason --
the program is very self explanatory and simple to install and operate. Even
so, support phone numbers and email addresses are listed in the first two
pages. I find this a refreshing change from manuals that have NO phone
numbers or have them buried in appendix G and printed in 6pt Old English
with the hopes that no one will call. The yearbook portion adds little to
the "hard" information on the glass disk, but is entertaining reading. It is
filled with happy little reminders about things like the invention of the
ball point pen and Hank Aaron's record breaking home run.
Wild Blue Yonder runs on either a PC or a Mac with a CD and a sound
card. Specific minimum hardware requirements are as follows:

PC: 386-33 or better, Windows 3.1 or better, 4 Mb RAM, Hard drive with 2Mb
free (optionally 5mb), CD-ROM, SVGA, Sound Blaster or 100% compatible Mouse.

Macintosh: IIci, IIfx, IIvx, LC III, LC 475, LC 520, LC 550, LC 575,
Performa 450, 460, 466, 467, 475, 550, 560,575, 577, 578, 600, Centris
model, Quadra model, or Power Mac model, System 7, 4Mb RAM, Hard Drive with
2Mb free (optionally 5Mb), CD-ROM with 150Kb/sec sustained transfer rate,
256-color (8-bit) graphics at 640x480 resolution.

Spectrum HoloByte
2490 Mariner Square Loop
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 552-1164 (M-F 9am-5pm Pacific)
(510) 522-9357 Fax
(800) TECH95 FaxBack

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

Talking Tutors
Review by Doug Reed

Beginning Reading- Early Math- Spelling Jungle- Spelling Blizzard-Kid's Typing

Sierra has designed a series of "edutainment" titles designed to
both educate and entertain children. These programs run under Windows 3.1 on
a 386 or better PC-compatible, and Macintosh versions are also available.
All 5 of the programs reviewed have a DOS program look; they are appear to
be DOS programs run under Windows and no multi-tasking can be done while
running these programs. I would imagine that this was done primarily because
it is easier to teach a child how to open the Brightstar window and
double-click on the game of their choice than to try and type in a DOS
These programs feature one-to-one instruction with animated
characters (the "Talking Tutors") who guide and teach your child. I've seen
many games with characters whose lips failed to move properly with the words
they were speaking, and the effect is usually quite humorous. These
programs, however, contain a patented feature called "hyperanimation",
whereby animated characters have facial movements in perfect synch with
their voices. "Hyperanimation" works perfectly; the only humor in these
games is that intended by the programmers. My hat is off to Sierra; it is
about time somebody got this right, and it really makes the overall platform
very, very impressive.

Early Math (Ages 3-6)

Early Math is designed to teach young children basic concepts of
math including counting, addition and subtraction, and recognizing geometric
shapes and patterns. The program covers areas established by the Curriculum
and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics from the National Council of
Teachers and Mathematics. Loid, the central character, uses a number of
different exercises on his asteroid to teach these skills, which are
designed to emphasize problem solving by analysis and not rote memorization.
Exercises include such activities as counting sheep at nap time,
feeding fish in an aquarium, and arranging geometric shapes to build a
bridge so Loid can cross and get an apple. Loid praises correct answers and
waits patiently until the child gets the answer correct; if the child
becomes stuck, they can go to other exercises and come back and try again
later. The program also provides a "Parents Screen" where parents can mark
the progress of their children. Overall, I would give Early Math an A.

Beginning Reading (Ages 4-8)

Beginning Reading contains two characters, Bananas and Jack, who use
a number of different exercises to teach children how to read. Extensive
help is given in all of the exercises, the point being that it is more
important that a child learn to recognize words, letter combinations, and
sounds than that they guess correctly the first time. Eventually they will
complete each of the exercises and move on. Completion of each part of the
exercise is rewarded with an animation surprise, which when clicked on will
do interesting things. The program consists of 6 exercises that are in
separate "rooms" that can be chosen from the main hallway.
In the Wooden Blocks room, Bananas teaches recognition of sounds
that are made by combinations of two letters. In the Wooden Tiles room,
Bananas recites six random words and a key word. Your child must identify
one of these random words that sounds like the key word. In the Puzzle
Pieces room Bananas uses puzzle pieces containing parts of words to teach
how to build complete words. Jack teaches sight recognition of often-used
words (called sight words) in the Stacking Blocks room. In the ABC room,
Jack teaches your child how to alphabetize. Finally, in the Storybook room,
Jack reads a short story. Words from the sentences in the story drop to the
bottom of the screen and children must place the words back in their proper
places. This technique is used to help move your child from memorizing text
to actually reading it. Beginning Reading also gets an A.

Spelling Jungle (Ages 7-10) and Spelling Blizzard (Ages 9-12)

These two programs are lumped together because they are designed so
that one precedes the other, and they use the same premise and exercises to
teach spelling.
Yogi, a benevolent and wise wizard, and Crackers, his parrot, are
the central characters in this title. In the first title, Spelling Jungle,
the child's character, named Wali, is sent out by Yogi to raft down river
and find out what is causing the river to flood their homeland in Africa.
Progress is marked on a map that shows where you are and lists the top ten
'explorers' and their scores.
Two basic exercises are used; the first consists of having the
player collect, in order, stones with letters on them in order to spell a
word for Yogi. Animals such as lions, tigers, and rhinoceroses can block
your path or force you to start the word again There are also such obstacles
as hot coals and mud, and tricksters which shoot fire, wind, or darts at
you. The child must avoid these obstacles and use elements of the terrain
(such as boulders or apples) or magic (protection from tricksters) to
collect the letters. Once the word is spelled, Wali proceeds down river to
the next exercise, the Spell Down. In this exercise, Yogi says a word which
the player must spell correctly in order to continue; as the child proceeds
down the river the number of words increases, as does the complexity. Once
the Spell Down is finished, another screen appears in which Wali must again
pick up letter stones to spell a word.
Spelling Blizzard is for older children but 'play' proceeds in
exactly in the same manner as Spelling Jungle. This time Wali is sent out to
find why the glacial river is flooding his homeland in the Arctic. Instead
of lions, tigers, and rhinos, now there are wolves, polar bears, and killer
whales. Mud is replaced with ice, and boulders with snowballs, and so forth.
The Spell Down is exactly the same. Overall, these two programs do a good
job of teaching spelling, and the increase in complexity as the child
proceeds is gradual so as not to immerse them over their heads quickly. It
is sometimes difficult to understand what word Yogi is asking you to spell,
but you can ask him to repeat it as many times as necessary. Both Spelling
Jungle and Spelling Blizzard get an A.

Kid's Typing (Ages 7-11)

This last program has Spooky the ghost teaching key positions, basic
typing, and speed typing. Children help Spooky scare away the family that
lives in the same house as Spooky. As they continue, text is created to help
improve weak areas, and the primary goal of the program is to increase both
accuracy and speed.
Spooky leads the player through five different game rooms (the
Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room, Tammy's Bedroom, and Timmy's Bedroom). As
the child types, strange and unusual things occur in each of the rooms. For
example, in the kitchen Spooky turns on the blender, and as the child types
faster and faster the blender accelerates wildly and goes faster and faster.
In between rooms, Spooky takes the kids to an attic to learn new keys and
work on weak keystrokes. The attic is also where children can enter or quit
the game, and provides access to the library.
The library is the most unique portion of this program. It contains
a number of children's tales from Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers
Grimm, as well as Aesop's Fables. Children can type the text to these
stories to improve their skills. Also included is the encyclopedia set,
which allows children to work on specific letters of the alphabet.
Indicators during the game inform you of your speed and accuracy, and others
tell you the amount of text you have typed and the time remaining in timed
sessions. Between rooms and the attic, Spooky tells the child what their
speed and accuracy were in the last exercise and what their fastest and
slowest keys were. Finally, the program allows you to print out certificates
which record the child's name and progress. Kid's Typing gets an A plus for
both fun and educational value. This is a program even adults can use!

Sierra On-Line, Inc.
3380-146th Place S.E., Suite 300
Bellevue, WA 98007

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Encarta '95
Review by William M Frazier

The stork recently arrived and that new bundle of joy is wailing in
the crib. You haven't slept more than 3 hours straight in a week. It's early
afternoon, baby's been fed, and you decide to rest for just an hour of two.
Then the phone rings. The party on the other end starts his pitch, telling
you what a wonderful investment in your child's future a new set of
encyclopedias would make. John Fitzgerald Kennedy once stated, "In a time of
turbulence and change, it is more true than ever that knowledge is power."
But an $800 set of encyclopedias for a one month old child really won't help
its search for knowledge nor its future.
The problem with print encyclopedias is that after the first year
they become obsolete. The salesperson will tell you not to worry, that for
just $40 or $50 you can purchase a supplement each year. By the time the
child reaches the age of 10 or 11, when an encyclopedia might be of use, it
will have to find the subject in the original books, then browse each yearly
supplement to see if anything has changed since the encyclopedia was
originally printed. A cost effective alternative might be one of a number of
electronic encyclopedias available in CD-ROM format. The latest, MicroSoft's
Encarta '95, is an excellent product, and costs just $95 at most retail
outlets. You can purchase a new version every two or three years and
probably never spend as much as you would for a single, traditional, printed
Encarta has all the elements of a conventional encyclopedia. What
sets it apart from the others and makes it exceptional is the inclusion of
audio and video clips that supplement many of the subjects. For instance, if
you want to study the recent history of Bosnia, you simply select the Find
option and type BOSNIA. When the subject appears, you will find that
interactive audio makes your research come alive. City names, which always
seem to contain too many consonants, are pronounced for you. Another clip
plays traditional Bosnian folk music.
Installation follows the usual format, run the setup program on the
CD-ROM, answer the dialog boxes, and watch it copy a few files to your hard
drive. Encarta will consume about 3.5 MB of hard drive space. The
documentation supplied with the program is sparse, but adequate. A small 26
page User Guide is enclosed in the CD-ROM jewel case. There is also a Quick
Reference card. On-line help is good, giving you the necessary directions on
how to navigate through the program.
Although Encarta is fundamentally an encyclopedia, the Multimedia
aspect is emphasized throughout. The encyclopedia contains over 26,000
articles. There are over nine hours of sound, including many foreign
languages, music, natural sounds, and historic speeches. Thousands of
photos, illustrations, and maps visually augment many of the articles.
The inability to search for, and find a specific article or subject
has been the downfall of many CD-ROM format encyclopedias. MicroSoft has
designed a new search tool called The Pinpointer to solve this problem. The
Pinpointer allows you to search for a subject by word, period of time,
media, category, and place. Using The Pinpointer, you can progressively
narrow your search till you discover exactly what you are seeking. My
favorite improvement in Encarta is the new fly-out menus, similar to those
introduced by The Corel Corp. in Corel Draw V5.0. Fly-out menus reduce
screen clutter and make navigating Encarta much easier for the novice user.
I did find a couple of problems, although they may be hardware
specific and not the problem of Encarta. Selecting the browse tool would
cause a GPF when I accessed it. The culprit was the video driver I was
using, which had a resolution of 600 by 480 by 64K colors.. When I switched
to 256 color driver the problem went away. A problem I was unable to solve
involved the MIDI Mapper. MIDI works fine on my machine when used with
professional MIDI programs, such as Master Tracks Pro, but would not work at
all with Encarta.
Encarta also contains a rudimentary game called Mindmaze. The game
has the appearance of a Mid-Evil castle arranged as a maze. To pass through
the various doors you must answer a question, given in a multiple choice
format. The characters arrayed in the various rooms of the castle refer to a
mysterious curse afflicting the castle and its residents. You are expected
to remove the curse. After a couple hours of answering questions and
wandering about, your motivation wanes. Unless you enjoy answering multiple
choice questions, to no apparent purpose, the game will not hold your
interest for long.
The primary purpose of an encyclopedia is to provide accurate, easy
to find, information at a reasonable price. Judged by these standards,
Encarta '95 is an excellent value. The sound and video clips included with
the program make Encarta a must buy.

System requirements: 386 SX or higher, 4 MB of RAM, 3.5 MB of Hard Drive
space, CD-ROM & audio board, SVGA-256 color monitor.

MSRP: $99.95

MicroSoft Corporation
1 MicroSoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6393

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

Space Shuttle
Review by Jerry W. Eichelberger

This program is a must have for the space shuttle enthusiast, but
would be interesting to anyone that like the exploration of space and the
utilization of the shuttle as a valuable tool. The Space Shuttle is a walk
through the history of the shuttle and the missions she has flown. You can
see a photograph of all the crews that have flown her and observe the
experiments that they ran while in orbit.
System requirements to use this program are an IBM-PC, 386SX/25 MHz
(486DX/33 MHz recommended), 4 MB of RAM, 5 MB of hard drive space, Super VGA
video system, MPC-rated sound card and CD-ROM drive (150KB/sec or higher
transfer rate), MSCDEX 2.2.1 or higher, MSDOS 5.0 or higher, Windows 3.1 or
higher and a mouse.
Installation was simple and consisted of running the install program
while in Windows. Installation took about a minute and ran without
You start with a tour of the Johnson Space Center. The videos and
narrations are very nice. You will get the opportunity to view NASA footage,
photographs, schematic diagrams, and full motion videos through all aspects
of this education al tour. You can learn about the training that each
astronaut must go through in order to be ready for the challenge of space
exploration. You learn about how they train astronauts, what equipment they
use in space (MMU, etc) and job functions for each crew member.
Next you are ready to select a mission and then 3-2-1 BLAST OFF! You
are now in orbit and can observe and learn about the various experiments
conducted on each particular mission. This program really is a valuable
educational tool for those that love space. When you get tired of learning
about shuttle missions, you can take a break and play the game that is
included in the program.
This program will be enjoyed by all family members that are
interested in learning about the space shuttle and it functions.

The Software Toolworks
60 Leveroni Court
Novato, CA 94949
(415) 883-3000

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Linux Network Administrator's Guide
by Olaf Kirch
Published by SSC
Reviewed by Chip Cox

Normally I purchase a book for one of three reasons; I like fiction,
as a reference book, or to learn more about a subject. I am still trying to
determine which area this book falls into. It isn't fiction although any
book which claims to provide knowledge on UNIX and in the case of Linux a
particular version of Unix almost qualifies. It wasn't written in a format
which works well as a reference book. It does however manage to tell you
generally how things work and give you a good background into the
development of Linux.
Olaf has done a good job of providing general information about a
wide variety of systems administration tasks. Subjects range from TCP/IP,
UUCP, sendmail and news configuration. However the information is not
accurate for all versions of Linux. It's hard for me to tell how much of my
review regarding this book is being influenced by the implementation of
Linux I am running. The book refers to several configuration files which I
don't have and the configuration information regarding the files I had was
not accurate. However, in Olaf's defense the same could be said concerning
the documentation sent on the CD with my version of Linux.
In conclusion, Linux Network Administrator's Guide focuses to
intently on one release of Linux. Linux, like NIX in general, is a changing
environment. Any book written to address Linux needs to address the variety
of configurations available. For this reason I did not find this book

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The Online World: How to Profit from the Information Superhighway
Review by Judy Litt

The "information superhighway" is a vast treasure house of
information. Finding exactly the information you want from it can be an
exercise in frustration. It is appropriate, then, that the book The Online
World: How to Profit from the Information Superhighway has the same
The dictionary defines the word profit as "an advantageous gain or
return; benefit." The subtitle of this book stretches that definition a bit:
the main benefit you'll have after reading this book is a much better
knowledge of what is out there online and how to get at it. If you want to
know how your business will profit from the information superhighway, as I
did, you'll need other resources.
I've been on the Internet for a while, via America Online and Fido
Net. I've been sending e-mail, reading newsgroups, and downloading by FTP
(if any of these terms sound Greek to you, The Online World will define them
for you). After reading this book, I had a much clearer idea of some of the
resources I didn't know much about: mailing lists, UUencoding, FTP by
e-mail, etc.
There are four parts to The Online World: An Online World (an
introduction aimed at beginners or newbies); Applications, including
hobbies, work, home, education, news, databases, and more; Working Smarter
(how to automate tasks and cut costs); and the Appendices - list of selected
online services, frequently used terms, books and articles for further
reading, important Internet tools and pointers, and list of services
offering access to the Internet.
One of the things I love about the online world is the ability to
communicate with people all over the world in literally minutes, or even
seconds. Yet when I think about the online world, I think in terms of the
United States, my own country. It was an eye-opener to see that this book
was written by a Canadian and a Norwegian. This brought home to me, quite
forcefully, the international scope of the information superhighway, and how
it facilitates working together when you're separated by thousands of miles.
One of the strengths of The Online World is its clear, easy to
understand explanation of many of the mystifying parts of the online world:
downloading and uploading, addressing e-mail, modems, file transfers, etc.
One of the weaknesses of The Online World is its organization. Off-line
readers are discussed before they're explained. Most of the discussions are
easy for anyone to understand, even a newbie. But some will bewilder those
new to the online world, such as the in-depth discussion of file transfer
Some of the information I found to be questionable. Perhaps XModem
is the most used protocol in other countries, but not, to my knowledge, in
the United States. The authors call the forums on CompuServe "chat areas."
Chat areas, to my mind, are where people communicate online in real time.
The forums on CompuServe are basically message areas.
There are two things I'd like to see in The Online World: screen
captures and an index. In many instances the authors do take you step by
step through some online process. They simulate the process by using a
typewriter-like font and indenting. I'd love to see some actual screen
captures. There is a lot of good information in The Online World, but it
doesn't seem to be organized very well. An index would make getting to
specific information quicker and easier.
Don't buy The Online World because you want to make a million
dollars off the Internet. Don't buy this book if all you want to do is learn
how to market your business on the Internet (I'll admit that's the vision
that came to my mind when I first heard the title). Do buy The Online World
if you'd like to learn more about the information superhighway.

SRP: $47.00, which includes shipping & postage
Title:The Online World: How to Profit from the Information Superhighway, by Mike Weaver & Odd de Presno
ISBN: 0-920847-89-7

Productive Publications
P.O. Box 7200
Station A
Toronto, Ont.
M5W 1X8
FAX 416-322-7434
Internet: [email protected]

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Reviewed by Robert Szarka

The arrival of a new book from O'Reilly & Associates is always an
occasion for joy. O'Reilly is a consistently good source of reference books
and tutorials on the Internet and the UNIX operating system: books that are
not only informative and well-written, but constructed with lay-flat binding
and adorned with drawings of our friends in the animal kingdom, (this volume
features the Bobac, which is, appropriately, a species of burrowing
soon, given the recent explosion of Internet usage in general and the
phenomenal increase in usage due to information services like the World Wide
Web in particular. Small companies, organizations, and even individuals want
to provide information on the 'net, and many of them will find this a useful
guide. About half the text is devoted to Gopher and the WWW (the most
powerful and complex services), while the balance covers services based on
finger, telnet, mail, FTP, and WAIS. Short discussions of security and
intellectual property issues are also included.
The book tries, and mostly succeeds, to serve two audiences: the
person responsible for installing and configuring the software and the
person responsible for maintaining the information resources themselves (the
"data librarian"). The chapters intended for the data librarian are marked
with a special graphic and are generally less technical, though they still
presume a basic familiarity with UNIX. Readers looking for a general
introduction to using these services, however, will need to go elsewhere.
(O'Reilly's THE WHOLE INTERNET USER'S GUIDE & CATALOG is a good place to
Speaking of UNIX, this is the book's principal shortcoming: although
much of the text is useful for information providers using any platform, the
majority will be useless to those implementing Internet information services
under OS/2, Windows NT, Windows, or, for the brave or foolhardy, MS-DOS. Of
course, UNIX is still the lingua franca of the Internet, and a discussion of
other platforms is probably best left to another book. If history is any
guide, though, someone other than O'Reilly will have to publish it.
So, if you're thinking of providing information over the 'net in a
UNIX environment, there's probably no better place to start than this book.
If you're working under another OS, you may want to give it a look anyway:
MANAGING INTERNET INFORMATION SERVICES is still a lot of book for $29.95,
and the Bobacs will look good on your bookshelf.

Cricket Liu, Jerry Peek, Russ Jones, Bryan Buus, & Adrian Nye
1st Edition
ISBN 1-56592-062-7
630 pages

O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
103A Morris Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472
+1 800 998 9938 / +1 707 829 0515
+1 707 829 0104 (FAX) / [email protected]

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Graphics Software

Adobe Acrobat for Workgroups 2.0
Reviewed by Danny Williams

We've come a long way in using computers to make putting words to
paper easier. Unfortunately, mechanisms for getting those words out to the
people who are supposed to read them has improved precious little. We still
have to put our collection of fonts, layouts, graphics, and color on many
copies of paper, then send those papers by mail, or at best, overnight
express. Exchanging documents electronically should ease some of the
problems of moving tons of paper, but problems are rife here also. Sure, we
all have modems, but have you ever tried to swap a mildly complex document
with someone? Getting a document that might include graphics or spreadsheets
or even links to other programs make things challenging at least. In order
to see anything close to what the author intended, you have to use exactly
the same word processor, exactly the same font libraries, and use exactly
the same brand of printer. Even then you may not get exactly the same look
in the document because of variations in default settings of your word
processor, printer, or operating environment.
Adobe Acrobat solves these problems by providing a common device and
operating system independent format for moving documents from one person to
another, or one system to another. This way, a document I create on my
Windows machine is easily readable on your Macintosh or UNIX terminal or DOS
machine. A freely distributable reader program is all that is needed to read
any Acrobat .PDF file, and any PostScript printer is all that is needed to
print it. Even something I might write with a laser printer in mind will
print the same (OK, at least close) on a dot matrix.
Now, if you are sitting at home thinking about that 1983 copy of
CP/M Wordstar that you do all your word crunching with and you never have
and never intend to widely distribute anything you ever type, then happily
move on to the next article -- you aren't missing anything. On the other
hand, if you write in a corporate environment where Engineering is using
UNIX workstations and the Marketing department spends the day glued to their
Macintoshes and Accounting will never be anything but True Blue and you need
to get the Employee Handbook out to all 300 of them without spending 5
person-days hunched over a copier and a binding machine, then this is the
package that will make your day.
Acrobat documents are created either by printing direct to disk via
a "printer" driver called PDF Writer or by processing PostScript print files
with the Distiller. After creating the file, Acrobat Exchange will let you
view, print, or annotate the document with your own pull-down notes. In this
workgroup version, notes from different people can be in different colors as
well as titled with their name so it's easy to follow the flow of the group
editing. Exchange will also place hypertext hot links between documents just
like the World Wide Web (WWW) or a robust help file. Acrobat Catalog,
although only available on the Windows platform, makes documents also
searchable through their whole text, not just a few indexed terms. Words in
graphics, such as a logo, are also searched just like plain text. Searches
can also span documents, so a search for "Pension" might return not only the
eligibility requirements from the Employee handbook, but the application
form from the appendix rules from an attached supplement.
Acrobat also links to other applications. For example, a link to a
video clip read in a Windows environment runs the Windows video player. The
same document run on a Macintosh runs the Mac video player. For those who
enjoy a little programming, links are provided to provide access to and from
Acrobat from your own application.

Acrobat Reader 2.0 Free and soon to be downloadable from on-line services,
internet, and Adobe
Acrobat 2.0 $195; includes Exchange, PDF Writer, Reader, and coupon
for Catalog ($500)
Acrobat Pro: $595; includes Exchange, PDF Writer, Distiller, coupon
for Catalog ($500)
Acrobat for Workgroups $1595; 10 user license for: Exchange, PDF Writer,
Distiller, and Catalog.

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows: 386 or better processor, Windows 3.1 or later, 4MB RAM,
1.44MB floppy disk drive
Macintosh: 68020 or later processor, Apple System 7.0 or later,
2MB of RAM
Windows: 386 or better processor,Windows 3.1 or later, 8MB RAM,
1.44MB floppy disk drive
Macintosh: 68020 or later processor, Apple System 7.0 or later,
6Mb of RAM

Adobe Systems Incorporated
1585 Charleston Road
PO Box 7900
Mountain View, CA 94039-7900

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Home Software

Puppies to Dogs and Kittens to Cats
Review by Jerry W. Eichelberger

If you are in the market for either a puppy or kitten, then your
first stop is not the local pet store or vet . . . It is your local
computer software dealer. Villa Crespo software has released two CD-ROM
Interactive Multimedia programs. If you are interested in a pet, then you
owe it to yourself to purchase the appropriate CD-ROM - "Kittens to Cats" or
"Puppies to Dogs."
The packages are crammed-full of useful information concerning the
various breeds and their respective characteristics. The pictures and
videos included are too cute to pass up and guaranteed to get a smile out of
anyone that sees them.
The installation was a snap and after running the setup program from
Windows 3.11. The program installed easily and was ready to use in two
minutes. You will need a multimedia 386 or better, Windows 3.1, and MPC-1
compliant CD-ROM (MPC-2 recommended) and a VGA graphics card (640x480 256
colors minimum). I ran this program on a Dell 486/66 SVGA with a
Soundblaster 16 card and Creative Labs 2X CD-ROM and the program performed
The program starts with an introduction by Ann M. Childers, a noted
animal behaviorist. She will guide you through the various stages of the
program from the classroom to the instructional glossary of problems. Do
you have a problem with a puppy that jumps on guest??? If so, just go to
the glossary and select this topic and an instructional video will appear to
help guide you to solving the problem.
The VHS video that is included in the software package provides
outstanding hints and tips to selecting an appropriate kitten or puppy. It
will provide you with a step by step guide of items that you will need to
purchase for your pet, information on various breeds, pet care and many more
topics. I have owned cats and dogs for most of my adult life, yet I was
surprised by the amount of knowledge that I gained by watching the video and
using the CD-ROM.
One outstanding feature of the product is the "Pet Notes" section.
This area allows you to keep your pet's vital information at your
fingertips. You can keep track of phone numbers, medical and breeding data.
Once you have entered the necessary data, the program will remind you of
important task such as vaccination schedules or medication schedules.
The "Breeds" area of the programs will allow you to look at
beautiful full color picture of the various breeds and read the notes and
descriptions for each breed. I will admit that enjoyed looking at the
various breeds that are out there. My favorite puppy was a Komondor, a long
hair mop-looking dog. I also had the pleasure of looking at the ugliest cat
that I have ever seen ... a hairless Sphynx.
The "Classroom" area of the program will allow two or more users to
follow along in a step-by-step educational session about pet care and needs.
The VCR like CD-ROM controls make it easy to repeat certain segments. The
information presented is useful and easy to understand.
Both of these programs were enjoyed by both the writer and the wife
and kids. I strongly recommend these packages if you are interested in
bringing home a new pet. You will enjoy the packages and the knowledge
contained within.

Villa Crespo Software, Inc.
1725 McGovern Street
Highland Park, IL 60035
(708) 433-0500

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ESPN Let's Play Soccer
ESPN Soccer Skills and Strategies
Review By: Don Pellegrino

Since my visit to the World Cup last summer, soccer enthusiasm in
the United States has jumped by leaps and bounds. As I was sitting in the
Cotton Bowl (June 30, 1994 - Game 36 Argentina vs. Bulgaria), it was easy to
tell my fellow Americans from the fans from abroad. The Argentineans and
Bulgarians were screaming their heads off, much like Americans act at the
NHL Stanley Cup playoffs or any NFL bowl game. Most of the Americans just
sat back and looked confused. As the game wore on and entered extra time,
however, the entire stadium was out of their seats and into the action.

ESPN Let's Play Soccer

"Let's Play Soccer" is a very high quality instructional video which
just happens to be on multimedia CD-ROM. It is hosted by "Home Improvement"
actor Zachery Ty Bryan, official youth ambassador for World Cup '94, and
taught by John Harkes and Mia Hamm. Harkes is a United States National Team
member, U.S. World Cup midfielder, formerly with the 1993 British F.A. Cup
Champions and now playing with the First Division's Derby County Team in
England. Hamm is the all-time NCAA women's points leader and a member of the
U.S. National Women's team and 1991 World Championship Team.
The training is very basic yet complete for an under 15, club, or
beginning player. Most of what my coaches taught me in my pre-high school
club teams is included in the program. There are about forty minutes of
video in the program and there is not much interactivity. The main
advantage this program has over a VHS counterpart is that specific
instruction can be easily found according to a specific topic heading.

ESPN Soccer Skills and Strategies

"Skills and Strategies" is an immense double CD set hosted by John
Harkes, Mia Hamm, and Tony Meola. Harkes and Hamm are profiled above.
Meola was goalkeeper and Captain of the U.S. World Cup Team. In 1989 he was
awarded the Herman Trophy and was named the Missouri Athletic Club Player of
the Year.
"Skills and Strategies" is a very complete look at the game of
soccer. Not only does it present the basics but, it contains many advanced
techniques, including goal keeping strategy. The program tells more than
just how to play the game. It has areas reviewing equipment and rules.
There is even an "Ask the Players" section, where you can see the answers to
many common questions fans ask of the three famous hosts.
The box boasts of an "Interactive Strategy Simulation", but if you
are looking for a good arcade soccer game, this is not one of them. It is
helpful in explaining strategy and seeing how plays unfold. It fits in
nicely with the theme of the program. If you are looking for a good arcade
type game try "FIFA Soccer" by EA Sports.
If you are a diehard fan of the game or just recently found it
interesting this is a very good program. If you want to find out what
soccer is all about, this gives an easy to understand and very interesting
presentation. If you have been playing for a few years and want to improve
your game, you can not buy a better tutor. You will definitely learn
something new.

Intellimedia Sports Inc.

Intellimedia was founded in December of 1991. They develop many
instructional programs under the brand name of IntelliPlay. Products
currently available are "ESPN Step Aerobics", "ESPN Baseball", "ESPN Let's
Play Baseball", "ESPN Let's Play Basketball", "Cowboy Casino", "ESPN
Football", "ESPN Golf: Lower Your Score with Tom Kite", "ESPN Let's Go
Skiing", "ESPN Let's Play Tennis", and "ESPN Let's Play Beach Volleyball."
The products range in price from $34.95 to $84.95. Most programs support
the MPC, multimedia-ready Macintosh, and 3DO platforms.

Techie Stuff

Both programs are very reliable and I wish that all of my multimedia
programs ran as well. I had one error. I had to call Customer Support and
I was only on hold for one minute. I left a message and they called me back
in eight. Here is the error and solution:

Windows Error: Could not copy file: VER.DL_ -> C:\WINDOWS\ver.dl
Answer: Delete VER.* from Windows and reinstall.

System Requirements and Recommendations

Both "ESPN Let's Play Soccer" and "ESPN Soccer Skills and
Strategies." MPC Hardware Requirements: MPC Level 1 compliant machine with:
486-25MHz processor minimum, hard drive with 5MB disk space free, 4MB of
RAM, 16 bit SVGA video card with at least 512K of memory, CD-ROM drive with
minimum 150K per second transfer rate, sound card, mouse, DOS 5.0 or higher,
Windows 3.1. Recommended Hardware: MPC Level 2 compliant machine with:
486DX-33MHz or greater, 8MB of RAM, accelerated local bus video adapter with
1MB memory, CD-ROM drive with minimum 300K per second transfer rate.

ESPN Soccer Skills and Strategies: $64.95
ESPN Let's Play Soccer: $49.95

Intellimedia Sports, Inc.
Two Piedmont Center, Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30305
Sales: 1-800-269-2101
Customer Support: 1-800-269-2099
FAX: 1-404-261-2282
CompuServe: 73361,2442

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Multimedia / Games / Recreational Software

Death Gate
Review by William M Frazier

Inspired by the Death Gate novels written by Margaret Weis and Tracy
Hickman, Death Gate is an epic fantasy adventure. It follows the path laid
out long ago for a game of this genre; solve puzzles, interact with dwarfs
and elves, use magic, and ultimately, save the world. Unlike many of its'
predecessors, the solution to this game actually makes sense.
Before the beginning of time as you know it, the world was sundered
into five parts by an ancient, now lost race called the Sartan. As Haplo, a
member of the Patryn race, your quest is to find the five seal pieces
representing the component parts of the world, reunite them, and thus reform
the world as a single entity. To accomplish this quest you must travel the
Death Gate from the Labyrinth to the other four parts of the world. In each
part, you must interact with the inhabitants to gain valuable information
and gather anything that hasn't been nailed down. Both information and items
from your inventory are necessary to complete the missions set before you.
Often the only course of action that will help you is to use magic. To use
magic, you must first decide upon who or what to use it. Next you must
select which spell to use. Finally you cast the spell. You usually have just
one chance to get it right when you are in a tight spot.
Death Gate operates in either SVGA or VGA mode. The graphics in SVGA
mode are beautiful, but your system will need to be fast to keep the game
moving at a good clip. The music and digitized speech are both appropriate
for the game. The voices are suitable for the characters they represent, and
the acting added to the flavor of the game. Animation sequences and sound
effects enhance numerous areas in the game. The sound and graphics are way
above average for a game of this type.
The user interface also adds to the game play. Everything can be
controlled with your mouse. You control direction by clicking on a compass
rose. Only directions that are open for passage are highlighted on the
compass rose. Commands are built by clicking on picture objects, inventory
icons, and verbs. You can enter commands using both object-verb or
verb-object syntax. Frequently, the command you want is completed for you by
just clicking the object on the screen. When you save a game (and you should
do this often), you can use a name up to 30 characters long. This is helpful
when many games are saved and you need to differentiate one from the other.
I really liked this game for one simple reason, the game itself was
fairly easy. I'm not the best adventure game problem solver. Usually the
solutions to puzzles border on the absurd, the application of logic having
no possible bearing on the puzzle to be solved. Death Gate takes the
opposite approach. The puzzles can be difficult, but logic nearly always
prevails. In addition, if you pay attention to what the characters around
you are saying, and read every book and manuscript you can find, you will be
directed on how to solve even the most difficult puzzles. While some will
not like this, I found it a refreshing change. I also liked the game because
it wasn't overly long. It took a week of steady play to finish, but at least
I was able to get to the end. I will play the game again, just to explore a
number of areas I missed.
The only real disappointment, for me, was the end game. I felt like
there should have been more, that the ending left things unresolved, but
then, how else to set the stage for a sequel. Death Gate is available in
CD-ROM format. If you like this kind of game, and don't mind puzzles that
are logical, I say get it.

Requirements: 386 DX 33 or higher, 486 recommended, 4 MB of RAM, 4 MB
recommended, CD-ROM & audio board, MPC1 compatible, SVGA-or VGA 256 color

Legend Entertainment Company
P O Box 10810
14200 Park Meadow Drive
Chantilly, VA 22021

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TFX CD-ROM Tactical Fighter Experiment
Review by Jerry W. Eichelberger

In a day where it seems that every software maker is working on some
sort of flight simulator program, Ocean of America has produced a virtual
diamond in the rough. The graphics, sound and realism of the missions are
extremely well done. Even in training mode I found my heart racing and beads
of sweat popping up on my forehead.
Installation is a snap and takes about 2 minutes. System
requirements are MSDOS 5.0 or above, 386/33 MHz (486 recommended), sound
card, VGA 256 color monitor and graphics adapter, 12-16 MB of hard disk
space and an MSCDEX 2.1 or higher CD-ROM driver installed. I ran this
program on my Dell 486/66 with a Creative Labs 2X CD-ROM. I did not have any

problems installing or playing the game.
You begin by selecting one of the various play modes (arcade,
training, UN Commander, etc). There are also various theaters of operations
that you can select (South America, Europe, Iran, etc). The graphics and
details are superb. You can also select the level of realism for the flight
controls. Everything about this game is well done and as close to real as
you can get without being in a G-suit.
Before you can move to the more advanced levels of play, you must
complete the 10 training missions. You even get to land (or in my case
CRASH) on an aircraft carrier. If you get chicken, you can select the
automatic landing. I can always finish the mission objective, but then get
killed trying to land on the carrier. Since I am a licensed pilot and have
been around flying for most of my life, I can appreciate the time and effort
that the Ocean programmers put into making the flight model as accurate as
possible. Acceleration, deceleration and flight controls are all accurately
You cannot select the airplane that you will fly for each mission
(they are assigned by the computer), but you do have to load your own
ordnance. I am sure that you will find certain missiles and bombs that you
like better than others. My favorite ground attack missile is the AGM-65
Maverick, and my favorite air-to-air missile is the AMRAM.
If you are blowing bad guys out of the sky, turning and burning, and
the little "caution" light comes on letting you know that you are just about
out of fuel, you can hunt down the KC-135 tanker. The in-flight refueling
approach is tricky and takes a little practice (just like real life) to line
up on the refueling probe. You have to manage airspeed and altitude just
right to make the hook up. The Heads Up Display (HUD) in the cockpit of your
fighter is helpful, because it shows you the altitude and speed of the
target aircraft.
All in all I have especially enjoyed this game, especially the
little details like hearing the pilots heavy, strained breathing during high
G-force turns. I would recommend this game to anyone that loves flying

Ocean of America, Inc.
1855 O'Toole Avenue, Suite D-102
San Jose, CA 95131
(408) 954-0201

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

Photography Made Easy
Reviewed by Bob Garsson

Photography Made Easy is billed as a CD-ROM guide to taking better
pictures. While it obviously will be of most benefit to the amateur or
occasional photographer, those who shoot professionally also can benefit
from this guide, particularly if, as in my case, their professional picture
taking is done only on an occasional basis. It serves as a good reminder of
what to do as well as what not to do.
Teaching the course, so to speak, is Brian D. Ratty, a graduate of
Brooks Institute of Photography, who holds an honorary master's degree from
the same institution. His experience has enabled him to come up with an
innovative CD-ROM that could easily set the standard for other instructional
In addition to the CD-ROM, there is a VCR cassette that provides
considerable introductory material.
The CD-ROM installed effortlessly and without a hitch and I was up
and running within a few minutes. It also contains new 256-color drivers
that can be used with most video cards.
The application is set up to allow the user to proceed in what ever
manner he or she finds best for learning. Freeform is the default mode and
allows the user to view any segment with all controls available. There also
is a classroom mode, which allows for one or more users (only one is
required) in a classroom setting. In classroom mode, segments are played
sequentially and students may review any segment already studied. At the end
of each segment there is a quiz with one or more questions based on the
contents of the segment. If a question is answered incorrectly, the
appropriate portion of the segment may be repeated if the student desires.
The student is always allowed to move to the next lesson if desired.
There is a student history, which tells what classes have been taken
and how well the student has performed on the quizzes.
The CD-ROM also contains a number of reference charts which include
information on such things as camera settings, film types and the like.
The CD-ROM is quite complete when it comes to the subject of
photography, going into such topics as which is the best camera, basic
camera concepts, automatic (point and shoot) cameras, the SLR, focusing,
composition, film and a host of others. Drop-down menus are complete and
allow the user to go quickly to a topic. There also is a glossary, which
lists all topics and allows the user to go to any one directly.
One nice feature is an equipment note interface, which allows the
user to maintain an inventory of cameras and other equipment. The interface
also includes a free-form text area for entering additional information to
keep track of such things as maintenance and repairs. Equipment information
also can be printed out if desired.
One innovative feature allows the user to record any section of a
lesson, which then can be edited or played back as desired.
There are a number of adjustments that can be made to improve the
quality of the video, such as switching between 16 colors and 256 colors, a
zoom mode which sets the size of the video screen and a parameter entitled
"skip video frames if behind" to force the video to keep up with the audio.
Frame counters also can be disabled to help the video run more smoothly.
Sound can be on or muted, but there is no provision for adjusting
volume while running. This must be done through the sound card or speakers.
Overall, the producers have done a credible job of putting this
course together and I wouldn't hesitate to purchase any other "how-to"
produced by the same company.

The CD-ROM requires Windows 3.1, a 386 or higher microprocessor (486
recommended) with approximately three megabytes of space available on the
hard drive, a CD-ROM drive with sound card and MPC Level 1 or higher (MPC 2
recommended), a 256-color 640x480 VGA display (16.7 million colors, 24 bit
recommended). The application uses Microsoft Video 1.1 for Windows and a
runtime version is included.

Villa Crespo Software, Inc.
1725 McGovern St.
Highland Park, IL 60035
(708) 433-0500 Fax: (708) 433-1485

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

Review by William M Frazier

MegaRace, from The Software ToolWorks, is a fast moving shoot and
smash, cream and crash, car race game. The premise of the game casts you as
a player on Virtual Television, where your death is only in the eyes of the
viewer. Your mission is to race your way around fifteen different race
tracks, each with its own unique set of hazards. Oh yeah, you must also
eliminate your competitors. Sounds simple, but try it. After a solid week of
play, I still haven't raced on the last two tracks.
Your MegaHost, Lance Boyle (played by the actor Christian Erikson),
introduces MegaRace with the statement, "Welcome to MegaRace! The Virtual
World Broadcast Television experience that puts you in the driver's seat."
From there, it's a one way ride to oblivion.
The game starts simply enough. As The Enforcer, you have your choice
of three cars. There are five additional cars to choose from, but you aren't
allowed to select them until you prove yourself. After you make your car
selection you go to the race. You have three laps to eliminate your
opponents. That can be accomplished by either shooting them with your
weapons, if you have enough energy, or smashing them into the sides of the
race course until they explode. But in virtual TV, things are not as easy as
that. Each track features a selection of symbols that can either help or
hinder your quest for excellence. Some symbols give you a speed boost, while
others slow you down. You can gain bonus points, or have points deducted.
The worst symbol of all removes your weapons, leaving virtually no chance of
slaying your enemies. You must either run over or avoid these symbols, while
at the same time you're flying down the track, around the curves, shooting
like crazy trying to explode the sucker in front of you.
MegaRace is in CD-ROM format only. Although it will run on a 33 MHz
386 and 2 MB of RAM, the recommended hardware is a 486 with 4 MB of RAM. You
need at least an MPC1 rated CD-ROM drive and sound card. You also need a 256
color monitor. You can control your car with either the keyboard, a mouse,
or a joystick.
Game-play is both fast and exciting. The vehicle is responsive to
your input, and the scrolling backgrounds are colorful. You are treated to
digs and jokes from Lance Boyle (what an ugly image that name draws),
between each race. If you want to take the time, you can also see endless
scenes of the world inhabited by Virtual TV, previews of the tracks you will
soon race on, and if you are successful, prizes you win. The animation is
extremely smooth, at least with a double speed CD-ROM drive.
I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys a few hours of itch
and twitch, all out arcade action. The only real strategy involved is
selecting the best car for a particular course. From then on, all you need
to do is put the pedal to the metal, pull the trigger, and avoid the symbols
on the track that lead to certain failure. This game is fun.

The Software Toolworks
60 Leveroni Court
Novato, CA 94949

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

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Network Software

NetViz 1.2 for Windows
Review by Thomas Kiblin

If it is your responsibility to do network documentation, then take
a look at Quyen Systems NetViz 1.2. This package offers a very powerful and
easy to use set of drawing tools for network documentation. All this without
the clutter and mess usually found in other graphic packages. This package
is truly dedicated for Network Documentation, from the type of objects
included with the program to object oriented tools that ship with NetViz
which allow you to do multi-level diagramming and work-flow diagrams.
Using other network documenting programs, the network manager
usually has to create many diagrams that have no association with each
other. I use another network diagramming tool at work to document our
multi-node/multi-server network, and it does not allow for association
between drawings. NetViz changes this, it allows you to logically link
diagrams, buildings, or even state drawings. NetViz also allows me to enter
in information for each node, such as serial number, type, person that owns
this node, and information about this node such as processor speed, total
megs of ram, this also holds true for our leased circuits.
NetViz does layering, which means I can see a high-level view of the
network, and if I so desire, I can "click" my way down to an actual node,
hub, server, digital circuit, and so on. I found this a neat feature
allowing me to draw my network from a nation-wide view, and than work my
down to a specific site.
NetViz ships with libraries for most tasks, including network
diagrams, workflow diagrams, as well as flowcharting processes. It also
allows you to import most graphic files, including BMP, CGM, DXT, DRW, GIF,
PCX, TIF, and WMF file formats. NetViz includes many object files, such as
routers, hubs, file servers, buildings, and maps of many geographical
NetViz could almost be used for a inventory product, except for the
fact that all information has to be manually entered, no automatic polling
is included, but than again, this is not a inventory product, it is a
diagramming tool. The software records detail about every end node at the
time of creation.
When adding end nodes, I can enter in such information as amount of
RAM, hard disk space, network type and file server name, brand of equipment,
etc. All this information is kept in a proprietary database, to use it with
other applications, you have to export it to a comma-delimited ASCII file,
and import it into your application.
NetViz made documenting very complex networks a pleasurable task,
compared to the conventional tools I've used before for documentation
purposes previously. I simply was able to pick up an object and drop it in
its place, if I moved that object at a later date, the network connection
simply followed.
Printing through NetViz is a simple process, and I have been able to
do away with the legal size stacks of drawings I currently have, because I
was able to zoom in and print out locations, and also zoom out and print out
a high level view.
I highly recommend NetViz for anyone who has the task of documenting
a network, no matter what the size. The ease of use, and the dedication of a
diagramming package specifically for networks makes this software package
worth every penny you will spend. I can't wait to see how NetViz 2.0
expands upon the already simple to use 1.2 version. NetViz from Quyen
Systems retails for $395, and should be available from you local software

Quyen Systems, Inc.
1300 Picard Ave
Suite 108
Rockville, MD 20850

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

DESQview/X Version 2
Review by Richard Lis

DESQview/X is a graphical multitasking platform. Although the
package has much to offer in the way of networking and related functions, my
primary focus was to be the use of this package to achieve multitasking of
DOS programs. I am primarily interested in its ability to run multiple nodes
of bulletin board software efficiently on a single CPU. I have been using
the "classic" version of DESQview for a few years now to accomplish this
same task. Although that version does serve well, I was curious as to what
the GUI (graphical user interface) offered by the X version would be able to
do for me. I must say it not only met, but exceeded my expectations.
First I think it is important to talk about the hardware that the
testing was conducted on since many of the facts and figures I will discuss
may indeed be quite different on another hardware setup. The computer is a
tower system with an Intel 486/50DX and dual Western Digital Caviar AC31000
1080 MB hard drives. The motherboard holds 20Mb of 70ns memory with a 128k
cache. The I/O is accomplished with a Boca IO 2 by 4 card and dual
USRobotics V.Everything modems. The video is a STB PowerGraph SVGA with 1Mb
of memory and an AOC multisync monitor.
My first order of business was to install the software. The package
itself was quite intimidating at first glance. With eight manuals and nine
3 HD floppies, I was unsure of just where to begin. Based on previous
experience with Quarterdeck products though, I expected to be guided through
the installation process with concise on-screen information. I was not
disappointed. It took about 20 minutes to proceed through their version of a
"novice" level installation. I am not sure a true novice would have all the
resources available to them that were needed, but a few quick glances to the
installation section of the manual should answer most needs.
Included in the package is the actual DESQview/X software, the
latest version of Quarterdeck's memory manager (QEMM) and Manifest, a memory
and system information utility. Along with these basic programs were
included a Novell TCP/IP system, and what I though an excellent touch, a
diskette of contributed public domain and shareware packages relevant to the
software. Installing all by the TCP section took approximately 12 megabytes
of hard disk space. Recommendation of at least a 40MB hard drive seemed a
bit conservative as did the 4Mb memory setting. More realistic in today's
hardware picture is a 200MB or larger hard disk and at least 8Mb of memory
to do any "real" computing jobs.
One of the nicest features I encountered in the installation was the
ability of DESQview/X to import almost all of my current setting from the
DESQview version already installed on this machine. The one area that I was
adequately warned about was the current startup script would not be
converted since keystrokes would need to be changed to access the new setup.
You are presented with three different look-and-feels to choose from and I
choose the stock version 2 setup. What came on the screen was very
reminiscent of Microsoft Windows. Running Quarterdeck Application Manager
allowed me to transform my text based DESQview setup into a completely
graphical environment including a large selection of stock icons to be
assigned to my different programs. Also available within the Application
Manager is Adobe Type Manager.
The ability to actually scale DOS windows into just about any size
on the screen was one of the features I was most looking forward to testing.
It took a bit of trial and error and frequent trips to the manual to get
things setup, but the results were nothing short of stunning. Where I before
had only small glimpses of four concurrently running programs, I now had a
neatly paneled screen with four full screen, although somewhat small,
windows of each session. Since my monitor is only 15 inches, the small type
was a bit too tiny to do any prolonged work, but I can only imagine who
wonderful the overall look would be on a 17 or 20 inch model. Even so, the
ability to monitor multiple full screen pictures of each running program was
a real plus.
Now the main reason I had not previously ventured into trying this
particular package was because of the tremendous performance degradation I
had heard about with GUI interfaces. We all know the jokes about how Windows
slows a computer down and I tended to believe what I had heard about the GUI
version of DESQview. I was somewhat amazed when things seemed to be running
at about the same speed as with the text based version. I decided to put
Norton to the job of actual measurement. The Norton SI for the system under
DOS was 76.9. Running the same test under classic text based DESQview
yielded 74.2. DESQView/X clocked in at 69.7, most of which came on the disk
access portion of the benchmark. Although this is a noticeable numeric
difference the actual "feel" of the system was really not much different. I
was still able to maintain two online connections at 14.4 baud, one local
node of the BBS, and a couple of DOS sessions each carrying on their own
jobs without a real slowdown of the system response.
One drawback to this version is the amount of memory the platform
itself can consume. Each window was 29k smaller than was possible in plain
old DESQview. Assuming you are not operating on the edge of your software's
memory requirements, that is not too much of a penalty to pay. Also, it had
taken me quite a bit of tweaking and fiddling to achieve the level of
performance and setup that I had with DESQview and only one month of time
was put into working the DVX package into shape on my particular system.
Actually, the improvement over the "stock" installation was very small and
once again Quarterdeck has made leaps and bounds in the whole setup process.
I have not even begun to experiment with many available features of
the software such as the Novell TCP/IP setup (can you say Internet!). The
whole X-Window environment and the networking potential of the software
could consume many pleasant hours of my time. The included File Manager
seemed to be at least equivalent to many of the fine packages offered for
Windows. Additional modes for graphic setup at higher resolutions could most
assuredly improve the whole look of the desktop offered.
Overall, I was more than pleased with the performance offered by
this unique multitasking package. The look of the actual monitor screen with
multiple programs running was both visually pleasing and quite informative.
With the power offered by good old DOS and DESQview/X, I just might not be
looking for alternative operating systems anytime soon.

Quarterdeck Office Systems, Inc.
150 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Product Information: 1-310-392-9851
Fax: 1-310-314-4217

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
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Utility Software

Desktop Value Bundle CD-ROM
Review by Tony Taglieri

Many computer users have succumb to the realization that the PC
world is moving to Windows. We all want to get the most out of our
investment while at the same time being able to show our peers "Look what
this can do!!!" In this vein we search for the really cool utilities to
enhance our computer to user rapport. The Desktop Value Bundle is a CD-ROM
aimed at just that, a few utilities to make our lives at the desktop more
interesting and less tedious. Unfortunately, given the enormous selection
of available shareware and retail tools, this particular culmination may not
be the best alternative to either end.
The combocalc is a tape calculator that functions as anything from a
simple to a full blown scientific calculator. The thing that sets this one
aside from the others is that it has a tape function that has the ability to
cut and paste previous formulas to the current line. This can be beneficial
to the user who needs to reuse results from a previous exponential equation
to a derivative on the new entry. In practice, it seems that the windows
built in calculator is as adept at most of the functions available in this
add-on but at a much reduced price...FREE
Many avid computer users are familiar with compression programs that
reduce the space files take up by storing them in a format that is more
efficient yet unreadable until the file is uncompressed. The command line
to do the actual compression and decompression is scary at best. Multiple
switches and options can intimidate the best of us. Thus the need for a
friendly user interface. The "TLC Packer" allows the user to compress files
in any of three forms, the Standard "ZIP" and "LZH" packers as well as a
built in "PDH" format unique to this software. Although each has its own
command line syntax, this packer allows you to click on the options you want
and simply hit go to perform the compression, making this software close to
on par with many shareware programs that have more options. Unfortunately I
can't give you any statistics on the compression ability of the "PDH" format
because I can not get it to function.
Also included in this bundle is an icon editor. It is the most
useful of all the programs when pitted against their shareware competitors.
This utility enables the user to grab an icon file from any program's .ico
file or one of the hundreds supplied with the CD-ROM and edit it to their
liking. The difference in this editor is the ability to open multiple icons
at once and cut and paste sections.
If you know you wrote a document about a particular subject, but can
not remember what you called it, Find and View can help. This utility can
search the contents of drives, directories, or files for a specific word or
combination of words. You can use AND/OR logic in performing the search.
Once a list of files containing the specified text has been generated,
double clicking on a file name will attempt to view that file using built in
viewers. Although the file may not be opened in its native format, you can
at least get an idea of what is in that file without having to open each
individual application up (Word, 1-2-3, etc.). A zip file will be recognized
as such, and the contents of the compressed file will be listed, but there
is no obvious way to look at a file within a zipped file. WAV files will be
played, and .GIFs will be displayed graphically. In my experience, a utility
with these capabilities has certainly come in handy.
Another utility that comes with the package is the TLC Phone Book.
This program is similar to the Cardfile that comes with Windows, but is
much fancier. It looks similar to the type of phone book you would buy from
a stationery store, in that it has "tabs" to turn to a specific "page" to
look up people alphabetically. By making you type information onto a
person's card in specific locations, this phone book can (theoretically)
automatically dial numbers for you of people at home or at work. I was
unable to get this feature to work.
The TLC Phone Book also has a primitive perpetual calendar built in
that displays the days of any month you want, for any year you want. Unlike
most calendars however, it does not allow you to put any information onto
the days. The Contact Manager feature looks like it could be useful.
Theoretically, every time the Phone Book dials a number for you, it can keep
track of the duration of the call. It also provides a free-formatted text
area for typing notes about the call. This feature would not work for me
since I could not get the auto-dialer to work.

Minimum System requirements: 386 IBM PC compatible, Windows 3.1, CD-Rom

Villa Crespo Software Inc.
1725 McGovern Street
Highland Park. IL 60035

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

TAWK Compiler for MS-DOS, Version 4.0
Reviewed by James K. Lawless

Thompson automation Software has done an incredible job of enhancing
the Unix-born AWK text-processing language. The AWK language was created as
a means to manipulate text data generated by Unix utilities. This C-like
interpreted language made its way into the MS-DOS arena in the late 1980's
when Unix tools became popular with PC software developers.
AWK's purpose was to provide text manipulation functionality in a
form that was conducive to rapid program development. Often, the
minimization in software development time gained by using AWK was contrasted
with slow program performance. Since AWK is usually implemented as an
interpreter, AWK systems are known for being somewhat sluggish in their
program execution.
Thompson Automation Software has augmented the AWK language with a
number of significant improvements forming a new product known as TAWK. Both
a compiler and interpreter are provided for TAWK programming. Compiled code
can be made to operate fully "stand-alone". The EXE files produced may be
compiled in a special form that requires a run-time EXE file to execute
properly. This method is utilized so that the size of the EXE files are
smaller (leaving the "engine" in a commonly accessible module). A technique
similar to this was used by some BASIC compilers.
With true compilation, TAWK provides an attractive feature known as
"separate compilation". This feature allows the developer to separately
compile multiple TAWK source files so that they may later be combined into a
single EXE. The importance of this facility becomes evident as the
programmer begins to develop function libraries that will be reused in
multiple EXE's.
In addition to a compiler and interpreter, the TAWK system boasts an
interactive debugger! This is an interesting feature of the TAWK system. The
debugger itself is a special TAWK program ( DEBUG.AWK ) that you compile
with the other source files that comprise the modules in the EXE.
When running the program, the debug screens automatically pop-up,
sporting a look similar to contemporary C debuggers such as Microsoft's
CodeView The TAWK language contains special functionality which allows a
running TAWK program to manipulate any variable used in a program
indirectly. Additionally, a set of special functions with a prefix of
"debug_" in the function name actually enable the TAWK program to be placed
in a controlled state for debugging purposes. While this may sound odd, it's
a very impressive feature. If the debugger doesn't meet your needs, change
it! An accompanying text file warns that customizing the debugger is best
left to an expert, but does little else to dissuade the reader from
attempting customization. In fact, after the initial warning, the text file
contains over 100 lines detailing the theory-of-operation of the debugger.
A very interesting feature of TAWK is that it will utilize all
available EMS and/or XMS memory available ( this is subject to fine-tuning
via a special set of control variables ). Additionally, TAWK can swap to
disk files for additional virtual memory, allowing for huge data usage.
Special built-in variables can be used to constrict the amount of memory
that is subject to swapping to a particular virtual-memory medium.
A powerful feature of the traditional AWK language is a mechanism
known as an "associative array". This is an array which can use a string as
an index rather than a number. In traditional languages such as C, you may
have an array "x" which is ten elements wide ( ordered 0,1,..,9). Accessing
the first element would require a reference to x[0].
An associative array may have elements such as x["name"],
x["address"] ...etc. One advantage of an associative array is that the array
grows dynamically as you add to it. A special version of the "for" keyword
borrowed from the C language allows for iterating through all values stored
in the array, sorted in the order of the indices ( from the prior example,
the word "address" would be derived before the word "name" ). Particular
enhancements that TAWK has provided include the ability to control the
method used in sorting the arrays. Consider the following program:

{ x[$0] }
END { for(i in x) print i }

This TAWK source code yields a text sort program that is far
superior to the MS-DOS sort. It is, however, dependent on each input line
being unique ( as the documentation clearly states ). Minimal changes are
necessary to provide support for non-unique entries. Using the compiled form
of this program, I sorted a file of over one megabyte of data (approximately
22,000 lines of text from a variety of product documentation files). The
EMS/XMS usage I described earlier provided for a transparent means to store
the entire file in RAM for sorting.
For you bit-bangers out there, TAWK provides for low-level access to
MS-DOS resources and PC hardware. You can manipulate absolute memory
locations, perform I/O to hardware ports, and generate interrupts. Special
functions cause variables to "freeze" their locations in memory when they
are utilized in interrupt calls. This prevents TAWK's virtual memory
processor from swapping them out before the interrupt call is complete.
In addition to the low-level functions a full set of screen I/O and
file I/O functions are available in the TAWK system. The file I/O functions
include including fseek(), provisions for file-locking, and shared file
access on local-area-networks (LAN's). A set of directory functions ( such
as findfirst() and findnext() ) is also available.
The screen I/O functions seem to work adequately, but they depend on
the BIOS for the actual I/O. The book states "Under DOS (sic) high speed is
obtained by using the direct video interrupt ( number 16 ), thus bypassing
the ANSI.SYS driver, if any".
This term "high speed" and "direct video" may be misleading. "Direct
video" access generally refers to the low-level manipulation of the video
RAM and I/O ports to achieve maximum speed. BIOS screen routines are
infamously slower than direct access ( due to the extra layers of code
involved ). Nonetheless, I did not notice any delay in the sample program
which implements a highlight-bar menu ( on a 486/25sx computer ).
What if TAWK doesn't have a feature that you're looking for? If you
can't find some means of performing a particular function within the TAWK
system, you have the option of linking in C code. Compilers supported are
Microsoft C 6.0, Microsoft C++ 7.0 or higher ( including the 16-bit versions
of Visual C++ ) Borland C and Turbo C ( 3.0 or higher ). The large-memory
model must be used for these external functions. The functions must not
return pointers ( they will be misinterpreted by the TAWK system ). Consider
the following two files:

# Declare an external C function
extern void write_str( char*)

// Implement the external function write_str

void write_str(char *s)
printf("*** %s\n",s);

The program linked perfectly and ran as expected, displaying strings
of text prefixed by the characters "***".
Traditionally, AWK can only manipulate text files. You may have
surmised that TAWK can manipulate binary files using the fopen() family of
functions. In addition to being able to open these files, a special field
translation mechanism is available to minimize the amount of code required
to process binary data.
The TAWK function unpack() can be used to translate a block of
binary data into a set of text elements within an associative array. The
counterpart function pack() converts the associative array elements back to
their binary form. Supported conversion types are as follows: ASCII string
with NULL padding, ASCII string with space padding, Byte, 16-bit integer,
32-bit integer, Single-precision floating-point, Double-precision
To see how easy-to-use this feature was, I wrote a short program
which dumps the MESSAGES.DAT file from a QWK-mail packet to the console.
Consider the following program:

QWKTmp="[email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] " \
"[email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] " \
"[email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]"
fileptr = fopen("MESSAGES.DAT","rb");
work = fread(128,fileptr)
while(1) {
header = fread(128,fileptr)
print "To " hi["to"]
print "From " hi["from"]
print "Subject " hi["subj"]
print hi["date"] " " hi["time"]
for(i = 1; i< hi["numblks"];i++ ) {
printf("%s", work )

The QWKTmp string is a format string for the unpack() function. The
identifier on the left side of the "@" symbol is used as an index to the
specified associative array ( "hi", in this example ). After the unpack()
operation is complete for the header, the for-loop iterates through each
block containing the lines of text in the message. Not too shabby for a only
a screenful of source code!
The only suggestion I have for this development system is that
Pascal data types and BASIC data types should be supported by the
pack()/unpack() system. Turbo Pascal has a 6-byte floating-point data type.
Pascal, in general, uses a special kind of string known as a
packed-array-of-characters (PAC). BASIC uses a special form of
floating-point, as well. With these additions, I could easily process a
number of files that contain these language-specific data types. The
facilities DO exist within TAWK so that I could actually write this myself,
but I'd bet that the routines built into the compiler would be faster and
more efficient.

I highly recommend this product to the following classes of PC users:

PC Support Staff
If you write batch files as part of your job, do yourself a favor
and take the time to learn this package. TAWK provides for a very powerful
means of manipulating files and directories.

Electronic Bulletin Board System Operators
If you're a BBS sysop, you probably have a plethora of text-based
information that your users access on a regular basis. TAWK is just the
language for you! Although it doesn't readily support modem I/O, it can be
accomplished either via port I/O, external C routines, or via an interrupt
interface to a FOSSIL driver.

The C/C++, Pascal, or BASIC Programmer
Some facets of TAWK will be more natural to C programmers, since the
syntax of the language was derived from C. I believe that programmers using
traditional languages will be pleasantly surprised at the level of
productivity and creative freedom they can attain by using this product.

Anyone with "older" PC Equipment
The automatic usage of EMS/XMS/Disk-swapping makes this an
attractive language for those older computers out there.

The traditional rapid-development philosophy of AWK is maintained in
this product. However, it is enhanced with features usually found in
contemporary programming languages. The seamless cohesion of these two
sometimes-mutually-exclusive philosophies certainly makes this a product
worth looking into. The price of the single-user-licensed TAWK compiler ( at
the time of this review) is $149.00. Please contact Thompson Automation
Software for other pricing information.

Thompson Automation Software
5616 SW Jefferson
Portland, OR 97221-2597
Phone: 503-224-1639
FAX: 503-224-3230

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

o o o o o o o . . . ____________________________ _____=======_____
o _____ | Jump onto | | Get into the |
.][__n_n_|DD[ ====_____ | the Future Track! | | E-MAIL CLUB! |
_/oo OOOOO oo` ooo ooo 'o^o^o o^o^o` 'o^o o^o`

Tired of seeing the message, "No Mail Waiting"? The Directory section of
the E-MAIL CLUB's Newsletter contains Personal Profiles of MEN AND WOMEN
worldwide with names and E-mail addresses. This is NOT an "adult"
service but the way to make dozens of on-line friendships with fellow
professionals, students, hobbiests, and persons with similar interests.
E-mail request to CIS: 74167,1004 * [email protected] *
[email protected] for full details.


Feature Articles
How to Select an Internet Provider
Rick Adams

Buying an Internet Connection is a lot like buying a computer. As
with buying a computer, your choice of Internet providers should be driven
by your intended use. If you are looking for a minimum cost, bare bones
computer for your kids, you might seek out the lowest priced system in the
back of a magazine or even assemble something yourself from parts bought at
a flea market. However, if you are buying something for your company that
your business will depend on, you would probably choose differently.
For your business, you might consider buying the most expensive
solution exercising the theory that you get what you pay for. However, once
you've really studied the question, the right choice might well turn out to
be a mid-range system from a stable, nationally recognized provider.
There are some low cost IP service suppliers who claim to be just as
good as the others, but may not be in business next year to prove it.
Conversely, there are other suppliers who will attempt to justify providing
the same level of services as their competitors, at many times the price.
This guide suggests a set of questions to pose and evaluation
criteria against which you can compare and contrast the different Internet
service companies you have to choose from. In this exciting but still
maturing market, the lure of Internet connectivity and Enterprise Wide Area
Network outsourcing will require many companies to evaluate service
providers within the next couple of years. The intent of this guide is to
stimulate your thinking on the subject while challenging you to challenge
your provider!

Selection Criteria for Choosing Internet Service Providers

*Network Topology*

Network topology is one of the most important criteria to consider
when choosing a provider. Looking at the network topology can help you
understand how vulnerable the network is to outages, how much capacity is
available when the network is loaded more heavily than usual and most
importantly, how well the provider understands network engineering.
Any competent provider should be happy to show you their network
topology. It's a good way for them to demonstrate how well they understand
their business.
Look closely at what they show you. Some providers will give you a
virtual backbone map. Virtual networks are meaningless. Your data does not
travel on a virtual network -- it travels on a physical network. A virtual
network map is merely a representation of all the theoretical paths that
could be implemented by the supplier's virtual circuit switching equipment
and is an attempt to side step the issue of physical capability. Your
supplier needs to understand the physical network to understand what is
important for serving their customers. If they tell you that the physical
topology is unimportant, they either don't understand how to engineer a
network or they are trying to disguise something. Remember, there is nothing
inherently wrong with using frame relay, ATM, or other technologies that use
virtual circuits as part of the backbone. However, your provider must
understand the physical topology on top of which their virtual (logical)
network is running.

*Network Link Speeds*

Now that we're evaluating the physical topology, let's look closely

at the speeds of the backbone links. If they won't show you the speeds, then
they're really hiding something. The first thing to understand is that your
network connection can only be as fast as the slowest link in the path.
It doesn't matter if you are connected to a T-3 node if there is a
56 Kbps link between you and your destination. This is like hooking a
half-inch garden hose to a fire hydrant. The limit is the garden hose, not
how much water the hydrant can put out!
Next, ask if the topology you are being shown is operational now.
Some providers like to show links that are not operational as part of their
backbone infrastructure. Some even go as far as to label the planned links
with solid lines and the operational links with dashed lines! You're in for
a big surprise if you don't notice this switch! Similarly, don't confuse the
press release about a new high speed network link with that link actually
being operational.

*External Network Links*

Now look at the external links of your candidate's backbone. Do they
have a single connection to the rest of the world, e.g., via NSFNET? This is
a potential single point of failure. Look for multiple, direct connections
to other network providers. The more of these connections the better. This
shows that the provider is concerned about external connectivity and does
not want to be dependent on some third party for interconnection. If they
have a single connection to the outside world, ask them how often it fails
and how long they usually are isolated. If they can't give you these
statistics, are they managing their network well enough to manage yours?
Check to see if they have their own national backbone or if they
rely on NSFNET for national connectivity. If they rely on NSFNET for
connectivity, ask them what their plans are for national connectivity when
the free NSFNET backbone goes away in April 1994. Now ask yourself if you
have enough confidence in their plan to risk your connectivity to the rest
of the world.

*High Speed Backbone*

If they claim to have a high speed backbone, check to see if it is
that speed now or if it is just "planned." Some providers claim to have a
T-3 (45 Mbps) backbone, but if pushed, will admit that what they really mean
is "T-3 capable." A 2400 bps dial-up modem is also T-3 capable because
tomorrow it is capable of being replaced with T-3. If they are misleading
you about something as fundamental as their network capacity, what else are
they trying to sneak past you?
The next thing to ask yourself about high speed backbones is if you
can actually connect to it for a reasonable cost. All service providers
require you to buy the local loop segment from your facility to their
closest Point Of (service) Presence or POP. You will have to buy this
directly or indirectly from one of the telephone companies serving your
local area. Some providers offer their service in such a way that the local
loop cost is greater than their fee to provide you with the service in the
first place. Think of the hose analogy again. If you're limited by the local
loop speed because the price of a high speed loop is not cost effective,
then how useful is a high speed backbone?
Many providers will claim some impressive number of POPs. Find out
what constitutes a POP by their definition. Some providers claim a POP
anywhere they deliver service. Find out if many of their "POPs" are single
customers at the tail end of low speed lines or if those POPs house high end
routers linked by physically redundant high speed connections. Network POPs
should be designed to scale with additional customers who, themselves, have
growing requirements.


The technology being used to operate the network is also critically
important. Today, there is plenty of commercial quality router, switch, and
modem technology available from companies whose business is to make that
equipment. Any provider still relying on their own internally developed
equipment is doing you a disservice. You deserve the benefits of leading
edge, production technology, not aging hardware that has been contorted into
a use never intended by its designers.
Sometimes a provider can have a bad case of "Not Invented Here"
syndrome. This is a sure sign of long term problems. Remember, you are
buying a service. The provider of this service should be using the best
available technology to deliver this service. They should not use the
service as an excuse to use surplus equipment and technology. The recent
popularity of Internet connectivity has some strange bedfellows offering
connectivity services. Again, ask yourself who you think has the better
incentive to make a network connection work and keep working: the researcher
who gets paid regardless of whether it actually works or the commercial
supplier who only gets paid if it's working?

*Build or Buy?*

Another worrisome syndrome to watch out for is the "Control Freak."
Some providers claim that they need to run even the lowest layers of their
network to deliver quality service. This is simply not true. The truth of
the matter is all Internet service providers rely on one or more telephone
companies to assemble "their" network. The only way for any company to build
"their own network" is to physically dig their own trenches and lay their
own fiber into the ground.
The only real question is at which physical link or transport level
your potential service provider buys from the much larger phone companies.
If the lower level infrastructure and service (such as T-1, T-3, Frame Relay
or ATM) needed to support an Internet service provider's value added service
is offered by a phone company, it's not cost effective or in the best
interest of the provider's customers for the provider to even think about
building and operating it. The provider simply can not match the economy of
scale that comes with being a phone company. If your provider has chosen to
build something when they could have bought a more reliable service more
cheaply, why should you have to pay for their misplaced priorities? (If they
can do it better and cheaper than the phone companies, why aren't the phone
companies buying it from them?) The job of an Internet service provider is
to manage and maintain your IP/OSI level connectivity. Look for strong
relationships and partnership between your Internet service provider and the
nation's host of Alternative (Bypass), Local (RBOC), and Long Distance (IXC)

*Technical Staff*

Probably the most important aspect to consider when choosing a
provider is the quality of their technical staff. The technical staff are
the ones who will get your connection running to begin with and then keep it
and the network running in the future.
Check the experience of their staff in TCP/IP data networking. They
should have several people who have been running TCP/IP data networks for
close to 10 years. The average experience is also relevant, as it's likely
that you won't usually deal with their most senior people. However, it's
reassuring to know that the very senior people are available if you need
them. Make sure that their "technical" staff consists of people who are
experienced with TCP/IP and not of people whose previous assignment was
"networking related" and have now been assigned to this new project.
Make sure the provider has adequate staffing to cover the usual
situations. If they send people to Interop for a week, how many people are
back at the office running things and how skilled are they? If they only
have a few technical people and they all go to shows, then what happens if
your network connection breaks while they are gone for a week? (Be
suspicious if they say they can handle it by dialing back in...)
Find out what their technical staff turnover is. If people are
leaving, find out why and who is left to keep your connection operational.
Many suppliers of service have single points of failure in their staff
capacity as well.

*Network Operations Center*

Check out their network operations center ("NOC"). It should be
staffed by at least one person always. This includes nights, weekends,
holidays, and during important sporting events. If they are quick to claim
"7x24" operations, you might ask them what they provide the other 358 days
of the year. An amazing number of providers claiming 7x24 operations really
mean that someone will answer the phone all the time, not that they will
have someone capable of dealing with your problem. An answering service or
beeper number is no substitute for a trained network engineer. Insist on one
being always available and not just on call, as you can never tell when your
connection will fail and what critical project it will have an impact on.
Ask how the NOC is staffed. While it is normal to have only junior
people on duty at odd hours of the night, it is critical that senior
personnel be on site at least 8 AM-8 PM Eastern time, Monday through Friday.
If your connection fails during normal business hours, you deserve to have
very senior people immediately available to work on it.


Find out how long the company has been in the IP business. Determine
if they are going to be in business for the long run. Maybe that deal is a
bit too good to be true for a good reason. Quality networks are not built on
a shoestring budget. The pricing may look attractive now, but the passage of
time often reveals hidden costs and price increases, the greatest of which
can be having to switch providers.
Ask about their financial stability. While you don't need to see
copies of their audited financial statements, you should at least be
comfortable that they have a positive cash flow and are going to be in
business next month to provide your connectivity. Determine if they have one
or two major accounts that provide a disproportionate amount of revenue and
what impact losing those accounts would have on their ability to maintain
your quality of service.
Are they an independent operating unit with its own staff and
facilities or are they run out of the back door of a larger organization
that doesn't know they exist? How critical do you think having the support
of the parent organization is to their long term viability?


At this stage of the market's development, some providers are
operating from behind questionable non-profit cloaks. Some may be subjecting
their sponsoring organizations to questionable legal and/or tax risks by
selling commercial services in competition with for-profit corporations. The
IRS requires that non-profits keep track of all revenue that is unrelated to
their non-profit charter and pay the tax on it just like a for-profit
corporation. Why should you care about your provider's tax troubles? It's
all about selecting a provider that can supply you with the highest quality,
best price performing, reliable Internet and Enterprise WAN network
services. Legal or tax problems can provide a major "distraction" to the
provider. As these services become more and more an integral component of
your successful business, your choice is more critical and all dimensions of
your supplier are integral to your decision. There will be a shake out in
the Internet service business and only the strong will survive.
Is the company rapidly growing and expanding or is it a stagnant
anachronism and merely resting on its laurels and remembering the good old
days when they were the only provider in the area? How long do you think
they will survive in competition with healthy, growing companies?
Is the group you're dealing with actually providing the network
service or are they fronting, merely acting as a local aggregator for some
larger entity? If so, what is the health of the larger provider and why
should the larger provider give your connection the same attention that they
are giving their directly connected customers?
Does the provider have a straightforward internal business model or
do they have a series of sub-contracts of sub-contracts and shell games with
wholly owned subsidiaries? Why are they adding unnecessary levels of
complication and expense, and why should you pay for it?

*Commercial Activity*

Is the provider a member of the Commercial Internet Exchange
Association ("CIX")? This is a necessity if you are considering making
commercial use of the Internet. If they are a member, see if they are really
connected to the other members or have they just joined the association
without interconnecting. Some groups advertise membership in the Association
but have never interconnected. Some go as far as implying that they are
connected to CIX members when they merely serve as a transit network for
providers who are really members and are really interconnected. Don't let
them confuse you. Insist on a straight answer.
Does the provider require you to abide by an Appropriate Use Policy?
Do you understand it? Is it ever enforced? Do you need to worry about it
suddenly being enforced capriciously?

*Full Range of Services*

Does your provider have a full range of services, from low end to
high end, or is it just filling a niche? If you need to increase or decrease
your service level, will you need to switch providers?
Does your provider offer true one stop shopping? Can they supply
equipment, manuals, training, consulting, etc., as well as basic service?
Can they provide connectivity throughout the country (and the rest of the
world) or do they just serve a small region? Can they provide service in
other countries through established partnerships with international
suppliers and bill you on the same invoice as your domestic service?

*Customer Base*

Find out how many customers the provider has. Don't be mislead by
the total number of customers the provider may brag about having. Some like
to claim all of the individuals they have connected, while most others only
count the organizations they have connected. The number of organizations
willing to pay $1,000 per month for connectivity is a lot better indicator
of the service quality than the number of individuals willing to pay $10.

*Comparison Shopping*

Do a price/benefit analysis. Some providers may appear to be priced
less than others. Make sure you do an "apples to apples" comparison. Don't
compare one provider's no frills service with another's full service
offering. Don't be confused by the names of the products. What one provider
thinks is Basic may be minimal or useless to you.
Don't be afraid to ask for customer references and talk to them. See
what issues current customers have. They will likely be similar to yours. If
you get a reference, make sure there is no insider relationship with the
provider such as an investor or a member of the board of directors.
Find out where their new customers come from. The most interesting
statistic is how many of their customers have switched from other providers!


The astonishing, worldwide growth of the Internet as a public access
computer network has all kinds of new users, large and small, investigating
the virtues of "getting on the Internet." Today, more and more companies are
using the Internet to conduct their business, communicate with and support
their customers, exchange electronic mail with hundreds of thousands of
users, and seek and find valuable information leading to competitive
advantage. This resource is indispensable once turned on. The choice of the
service provider to be responsible for ensuring this vital business tool is
the most important decision you will make when embarking on the Internet.
Hopefully this white paper has provided assistance in examining some
of the issues and raising some of the questions that will lead to a long and
trusted relationship with your full service, professional Internet service

Rick Adams
Chairman & Founder
UUNET Technologies, Inc.
Providers of AlterNet Internet Services
3110 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 570
Falls Church, VA 22042 USA
[email protected]
1 800 4UUNET4
1 703 204 8000

Send your postal name, address, city, state, zip to [email protected]
for product literature to be sent to you via postal mail.

. (c) 1989-1993
USR HST/DS (216) 381-3320 PC-Ohio, Inc
HAYES V.FC (216) 691-3030
:::.::::::::::: ...
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= = = """""====::.:.:::."""" """""""::.::
=====" "" :::::::.:.::." """""""""".::::
= === """ ::::::.:....::""""" """" ".::::
::::::::.::.....""" " """"""::...:::
:::::::::::::"" """ """""""" ::

Sysop: Norm Henke
Asst. Sysop: Doc White
Asst. Sysop: Joyce Henke
Post Office Box 21411
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The Best BBS in America!

Interview of Bob Metcalfe by Patrick Grote

I owe Bob Metcalfe. See, I am a network engineer. Had Bob not
invented Ethernet I wouldn't be where I am today. What would I be doing?
Oh, probably writing maintenance code for a Fortune 500 company in
Cobol. That is hell, isn't it?

Recently, Bob has been making waves in many areas. For a while he
held the bully pulpit at InfoWorld, a trade magazine with integrity, and
made his mark in a variety of areas including the future of BBSing. As
Bob relates, "the only way they would let me write an article is if I
became Publisher."

What you find out about Bob Metcalfe by conversing with him over the
medium he created is that he has that rare combination of talent and
skill that composes an ultra winner. The flair and enthusiasm he shows
for marketing is only outpaced by his proactive and skillful wield of

Enough of my thoughts, let's get to the questions. BTW, this
interview as conducted entirely via email. My first contact from Bob
was a flameless response to a press release I left about CyberNews. He
very professionally pointed out a perception problem I may have created.
Little did he know his tips would lead to this

CYBERNEWS: OK, to get this out of the way, you are the father of
ethernet, the backbone of the LAN movement. Briefly, how did this happen
and more importantly, as it was unfolding, did you realize what you had

BOB:First of all, it's Ethernet not ethernet or EtherNet or

Second, Ethernet (aka IEEE/ISO 802.3) was invented in a memo I wrote
on May 22, 1973 at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. My job was to
connect a bunch of experimental personal computers, called Altos, to the
page-per-second 500-dpi laser printer we were building down the hall,
and to one another's disks, and to our minicomputer for E-mail and
access to the Internet (then called ARPANET). My PhD thesis, published
in 1973, studied the ARPANET and the Alohanet. Ethernet is derived from
those, only in its first prototype it ran at 2.94 megabits per second
(say 3), 100 to a 1000 times faster, depending on how fast you think
they ran, and it ran on coaxial cable among 100s of computers in a

CYBERNEWS: What two major trends do you see driving the PC and
Networking industry on the next year?

BOB:Price and CD-ROM will continue driving multimedia PCs into
homes. Online services, especially the Internet.

CYBERNEWS: How did you get started in the PC business? How long have
you been in it?

BOB:I built a simple digital calculator in 8th grade in 1959. My
first paying job as a computer programmer was at Raytheon in 1965. My
first PC was in 1968, a PDP-8S, the first computer, unfortunately for
me, small enough to be stolen. There was no PC industry that I recall
when I went to Xerox PARC in 1972 and did Ethernet for Altos. We built
several Xerox workstations in the late 1970s, which led to the Sun
workstation and the Macintosh PC. I got an Apple II in 1979 upon
founding 3Com -- perhaps this was my entry into the PC business. I've
been using Macintoshes since 1984. I bought 3Com's first IBM PC in late
1981 and we developed PC Ethernet for it -- there are now 50,000,000
Ethernet connections. I led a 3Com team that developed, manufactured,
and marketed 100,000 286 Ethernet netstations in the mid-80s. I sold
Ethernet adapters for $5,000 in 1981, now some good ones go for under
$50. 3Com is now a $1B company and in the Fortune 500 -- they did that
last little $600M without me (;->).

CYBERNEWS: No one can just "do computers" all the time. Do you hit the
golf course? Play a little ping pong? What?

BOB:We've just moved to a sheep farm in mid-coast Maine and have two
kids, Julia (7) and Max (5). Do I need any other hobbies? I used to be
very good at tennis, but the years and inattention have taken their

CYBERNEWS:Do the words Pearl Jam mean anything to you? What type of
music are you in to?

BOB: I've been to an AC/DC concert, which reconfirmed for me that I
prefer oldies out of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I especially like the group
Paul McCartney had before Wings. The Shirelles ("Moma said there'd be
days like this"). Eagles. Doobie Brothers. Young White Cannibals?
Anything by Carol King. Roy Orbison. Hall and Oates. Heart. Peter
Frampton. Chuck Berry with beer... The list goes on, and as you can see,
I'm not very selective.

CYBERNEWS: How did your involvement with InfoWorld begin? Why did you
recently step down as Publisher?

BOB:I retired from 3Com after 11 years in 1990 -- it was doing $400M
and I had outlived my usefulness there. I took up writing, doing columns
for Network Computing, Communications Week, Computerworld, etc. Pat
McGovern, founder of IDG, owner of InfoWorld and 200 other publications
worldwide, was given the idea by InfoWorld's Stewart Alsop of my being
InfoWorld Publisher/CEO. Pat and I knew one another from having attended
meetings of MIT alumni who have endowed professorships at MIT -- MIT has
a Metcalfe professor of writing and I now serve on the executive
committee of MIT's board of trustees.

InfoWorld is one of the five largest (by sales) computer publications in
the world, and I could not pass up the chance of starting a new career
at the top.

In two and a half years our team increased InfoWorld profits by two and
half times and is now booming!

Now I have moved to Maine with my family and cannot run InfoWorld from
there, and so I'm expanding my Iway punditry and increasing my role at
IDG with headquarters in Boston (where we have a townhouse).

It's a bit awkward, I've learned, being a trade publisher, selling ads,
and being a trade journalist, being negative on vendors and products
when they deserve it, which is pretty often. I drove maybe 5 advertisers
out of InfoWorld -- they eventually came back because of the value of
our readers and InfoWorld's credibility.

CYBERNEWS: What was the last trade show you went to? What trade show do
you find to be the best for information? Fun?

BOB: I attended COMDEX in November at Las Vegas, but who didn't, and
then internet World in Washington -- a much better show. My favorite
conferences are InfoWorld's own Agenda (for the PC industry by
invitation only) and Demo (for thoughtful demos of selected (new)

CYBERNEWS: Just for grins, what kind of car do you drive?

BOB: I just sold my owned-since-new 1978 Mercedes 240D and now drive
my wife's old Volvo station wagon. She has a new Range Rover. We now
also own, but they won't let me drive, a John Deere tractor and a
3/4-ton Dodge 4X4 truck with snow plow.

CYBERNEWS: On average, how many mail messages do you receive a day?
What do you use to read mail? Do you filter your mail?

BOB: These days I receive and answer on average 25 messages per day,
except during big weeks, like the one recently in which I asked
InfoWorld readers to vote on whether Microsoft should be allowed to buy
Intuit and got 500+ responses in 10 days. I read but could not answer
all of those.


So, is Bob about the most down to earth genius you have ever read
about? He kiddingly said we needed to wait for the book about him for
more information. I am convinced there is a movie in his life somewhere!

| Tired of Getting Locked out of the Castle? |
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Chip's World
Chip Cox ([email protected])

I am upgrading my servers at work from Netware 3.x to Netware 4.1.
For those of you who don't follow Netware, Netware 4.1 is the latest version
of Novell's network operating system. This is the operating system which
provides true Enterprise wide support for your network. Users, printers and
directories have become objects which can be changed, captured and mapped
without having to substantially alter login scripts. Objects are just one
of the strong features of Netware 4.x. Netware Directory Services (NDS)
allows us to connect to the enterprise network or TREE as Novell refers to
it and then all objects I have rights to under the tree are available to me.
I don't have to put in my password 5 times anymore. You would think with
all of the thought put into the global feel of this product that Novell
would have taken a better look at their licensing policies.
Novell currently licenses 4.x on a per connection basis. This says
that if I buy a 100 user version of Netware, only 100 people can be logged
into that server at a time. Even if I have multiple servers and need to be
logged into several of them at a time I am still limited to the license
count on each server. Novell's licensing structure still does not allow me
to move unused licenses between servers. Under 3.x this made sense or at
least it wasn't as much of an issue due to the server specific nature of the
operating system. Under 4.x the directory tree is what is attached to and
the resources of each server are combined as resources of the tree.
Licensing should be cumulative. Two 250 user licenses on separate servers
should result in a 500 user license for the tree and all resources of the
In defense of Novell, they did take a step to try to address this
issue in November. Unfortunately it either isn't enough of is not quite in
the right direction. Novell through their Additive License program allows me
to purchase a 100 user version and a 50 user version to increase the user
count for the same server and save some money. While this does allow me to
right-size my netware purchases for each server it doesn't address their
failure to consider the unused licenses in the enterprise environment
provided us by Netware 4.x.
In closing let me say that Novell is one of the most stable products
on the market. While I don't always agree with their policies I do not
envision or support a move away from their environment. I am merely stating
issues which I believe need to be addressed by the industry leader in

Death of the ProgaSaurus Hax
by James K. Lawless

In issue #1 of CyberNews, Hugh W. ( Chip ) Cox lets us in on his
opinion of the growing rumor that programmers will soon be an extinct
These rumors are lent credibility by newer development tools which
facilitate rapid development of software. Nowadays, your average Joe can
crank out a quality application in a very short amount of time with a tool
such as Microsoft Visual BASIC.
If you've tried a tools such as VB, I think you'll find that the
rumors have some credibility. Nontechnical personnel can construct
applications using rapid-development tools. Unfortunately, issues remain
which are not readily obvious which stall the demise of the almighty
Most of the loud voices behind these rumors define "programming" as
the ability to create a software product. In the life-span of any given
program, the program will endure a larger maintenance-cycle than it will a
creation- cycle. While many contemporary software development facilities
boast a rapid development cycle, I've yet to see statistics on any kind of
maintenance cycle.
For years, programmers have tried to minimize the amount of work
required to perform a specific programming task. This effort was often
accomplished by designing reusable software components, minimizing the
amount of rework time necessary for new projects.
I'm not certain of any rapid-development packages which facilitate
creation of reusable components ( Borland International's Delphi may prove
me wrong, however ). Essentially, the packages allow you to glue together
existing software components so that they form some type of an application.
Reusability can be achieved by adhering to carefully defined coding
conventions so that the text-based source code can be hacked up in a
cut-and-paste manner.
These rapid-development tools are obviously mature enough that they
are being used as development tools on a large scale. We should really focus
on the fact that while they do facilitate quick development, a skilled
software architect should really be behind the wheel of the development
After the initial excitement of being able to paste together an
application I think that a nontechnical user will quickly realize that they
need more training to effectively use these tools.
Rapid-development tools seem to focus primarily on business software
development. As Mr. Cox stated, someone will have to continue to write
operating-systems, compilers, and such.
Who cares if these tools can't write operating-systems or compilers?
When was the last time you had to write one at an insurance company?
Payroll...general you're talking!
Realistically, most applications boil down to inserting data into a database
and analyzing/reporting on this data.
While I doubt that the programmer will vanish any time soon, I do
believe that the programmer's role in software development will change. The
tools are certainly changing, so it's time for the programmer to adapt.
My point is simple. Rapid-development tools do have their place in
contemporary programming. Are they going to cause the extinction of the
programmer? I don't think so. I do think that they will cause the existing
class of programmers to metamorphose into a group of individuals who will be
unencumbered by trivialities of programming-language syntax. Future
operating systems will facilitate software constructs that lend themselves
to functions particular to specific programming tasks ( database management,
FAX interaction, electronic-messaging ). Future compilers/development
facilities will have to provide a means to interface to these powerful
operating systems. This interface should allow for all of the time-saving
practices we learned as software engineers ( component reuse, group
development, ...etc. )
Is this transition going to happen quickly? Probably not. While the
current set of tools does prove promising, most are lacking in features that
make them desirable development environments.
The change, however, is on the horizon. It WILL happen. If you're a
programmer, I really don't think that you have anything to fear. All of your
experience is still needed, the medium has simply changed.
Rather than succumbing like the dinosaur, I believe that the
programmer species will evolve with the environment, disparaging the most
current in the history of "impending-doom-for-programmers" rumors.


The Editorial from Patrick Grote

I've been in the business so to speak for more than 10 years. I hate
how people try to show off by indicating they have been using computers
since the first home PC became available. I'll admit right now -- I was
barely a teenager when I got my own computer and for five years prior to
that I drove all the math teachers I knew nuts by mucking up any PET
computer I could find. Ah, the wonderful POKE command . . . I digress.

Suffice to say I am probably in the top 15% of all folks when it
comes to getting computers to work like they should. Programming is for
folks who have too much time or are named Marty. Soon, there will be no
programmers except for primary objects. (See our editorial response on
that subject in another section . . .) I am the ultimate Terminator when
it comes to getting computers to do what my clients want them to do. OK,
so I need a cast for my arm ... so, what. I deliver.

What I've begun to notice is that many companies just aren't
delivering on their software promises. If I wasn't able to deliver to a
client what I promised I'd be out of business and sued twice over.
Amazingly, when Lotus ignores a bug for three revisions of their word
processor, no one bats an eye. (The bug, BTW, is when you go to save a
file. Notice how it doesn't show you a list of files that exist? Hmmm,
it was in there at one time.) Of course, Lotus can shrug this off and
chalk it up to rough production schedules. But on the last three

Take Microsoft for instance. Windows 95? Puhlease . . . . What is
the significance in 95? Who is the dweeb that tossed this one out in a
marketing brain trust meeting? I can see it now. Some guy named Bob
throws out 95. The group agrees. Bill hears about it and decides to name
the new desktop metaphor after him.

Really, what is 95? According to my trusty Timetables of History the
significant happenings in 1895 are the end of the Chinese-Japanese war
(can't tell who won, but the Queen of Korea was assassinated by the
Japanese), George VI of Great Britain was born (he died in 1952. Does
this mean Microsoft will die in 2052?), H.G. Wells writes the Time
Machine (so that's how Bill knew he could screw IBM on the development
of OS/2) and the motion picture was invented by Auguste and Louis
Lumiere (who are being sued by Apple for QuickTime violations.) So,
what's the deal? Does Microsoft really think it can turn out a good
product by 1995 that delivers the world? What about the slipped shipping
dates? According to the first Microsoft PR on the new operating system
we should have it already as WARP . . . (OS/2 3.0 was to be the next
generation . . .)

So this gets us into the land of the OS/2 zealots. They are the only
people on earth who will actually say with a straight face that OS/2
will take over Windows on the desktop? Hello? Earth to OS/2 zealots?
People use what is installed on their PCs when they buy it. Try
convincing my grandmother that she can use something other than Windows.
For all she knows she thinks it's part of the machine! OK, so what has
IBM failed to deliver? Applications? Sure, there are over 2000
applications for OS/2. Let's look through their software catalog . . .
Hmmm, a Lotus SmartSuite. This is the one they always point to as being
the equalizer to Windows apps. Let's look a little closer . . . Hmmm,
AmiPro doesn't include some of the functionality of the Windows version.
It is slower as well. Hmmm, look at that Freelance Graphics and Lotus
123 are a revision behind. Hmmm, where did Organizer and ScreenCam go?
What, they only come in the Windows version of SmartSuite? Give me a
break. To be fair we'll look a little further into the catalog . . . Ah,
here we go. A company makes an industrial control system that makes sure
your assembly line reports unusual runs in production. Ah and another
perfect home application ... this one is a medical system that allows a
doctor to punch in some figures concerning a patients spine and receive
a diagnosis back. Yep, my grandma would sure enjoy these! Get a life . .

I guess the biggest company who has not delivered on its promises is
Borland. Could there be a more pathetic excuse for a company than
Borland? Hey, I used to love them. Phillipe Kahn was my personal idol.
Problem was he tried to run a business the way he ran his life. Now the
company is in the toilet and is hoping to rebound with Delphi 95 (oops,
they just dropped the 95). I told you programmers were going to be
non-existent soon . . .

What are some of your gripes about companies not delivering on their
promises? I would love to read them and share them with the world! Send
me a note at [email protected]


Internet providers suck the life out of people. Sure, unlimited SLIP for
50 people through a 56K line.

The ASP is headed for a revolt from the sysop members (yes, I am one).
The latest touch was admitting Rusty & Edies as a BBS member.

Is it me or is IRC a complete waste?

Does America On-line allow transfer of pornographic images? If so, how
come Tennessee hasn't sued them?

RIME is the best non-Internet network in existence.

Do you use NCFTP over FTP?

Have you joined the EMAIL Club? Why not?
([email protected] for more info)

PC Ohio is the friendliest US BBS in existence.

Why isn't a gig enough space anymore?

Wanna hear a joke? Windows based BBS systems . . .

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