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REVIEWS: PowerDisk

Through the Looking Glass: The Fall 94 -- Summer 95 Subscriber PowerDisk

This year's PowerDisk provides a culinary delight for the Palmtop palate. Chef Ed Keefe describes this year's chief entrees.

By Ed Keefe

[Note: HP Palmtop Paper subscribers receive one Subscribers PowerDisk per each year they subscribe. So if you subscribed six months ago for one year and received the last PowerDisk, you will be eligible to receive the 94-95 disk when you renew your subscription.

We realize that our past policy of naming the PowerDisks by the year in which they are issued (e.g. The 1993 PowerDisk) may have confused some subscribers. Whenever a PowerDisk is issued, it is the current disk until the next disk is issued. Our 1992, 1993, and 1994 disk have all been first issued in the Fall. To minimize confusion, we have named this years disk the Fall 94/Summer 95 Subscriber Power Disk.

To resubscribe and receive this PowerDisk, see page 8, this issue.]

By now you've most likely received your copy of The HP Palmtop Paper 1994-95 Subscribers PowerDisk. We hope you find it both useful and enjoyable. We want to thank the authors of all the software on the disk. They've spent days and weeks creating these programs. Their creativity is exceeded only by their kindness in offering their work to the rest of us, free of charge.

Putting the collection of software together was a challenge. We looked at several hundred good programs and struggled to select the 30-plus programs to appear on the Subscriber PowerDisk. We chose those that we felt would be most widely used and appreciated. A lot of other people influenced our choice of the programs that appear on this year's PowerDisk. The members of the on-line Palmtop community have tried most of these programs over the past year. They've helped catch most, if not all, known bugs and suggested many improvements.

It's almost as if several hundred chefs went shopping for you, picked the finest ingredients, tested all their recipes, prepared a veritable smorgasbord and invited you to dig in and help yourself. That could be a problem, especially if your plate is already full. If you're as busy as usual, the biggest problem may be deciding where to start sampling the software. If you find yourself in that predicament, let me make a few suggestions for your computing pleasure.

Listed below are a few of the 30 Subscriber PowerDisk programs that are permanently ensconced on my Palmtops. These are the programs and Palmtop games that, in my judgment, return the most productivity and enjoyment for a small investment of time and energy setting them up.

HELV100: a sight for sore eyes

As I write this article, the pollen count in central Iowa is at an all time high. My eyes are itching and tearing up. Trying to read the text on my HP 100LX (or an HP 200LX) would be unbearable, were it not for one of the programs on the 1994 PowerDisk.

HELV100 is an amazing piece of software that actually makes the 100LX more readable. All the letters and numbers on the screen appear a little bit bigger as well as thinner and sharper. As a result, the whole screen looks brighter (see graphic below).

The HELV100 program is not only a sight for sore eyes, but also a snap to use. To make it work, you just put the HELV100.COM file in the root directory of the C: drive of the 100LX; put the statement helv100 in an AUTOEXEC.BAT file and reset the Palmtop.

HELV100 has also saved me at least $100. Without this program, I would have bought one of those desk lamps that have a circular light surrounding a magnifying lens. With the Helvetica fonts, I no longer need such a lamp. Even the tiniest letters on the HP 100LX are readable.

Memo Showing Helvetica Fonts: Graphic

Memo With Normal Fonts: Graphic

Sad to say, HELV100 interferes with the 100Buddy program. 100Buddy looks for built-in fonts and, when it doesn't "see" what it's looking for, it won't work. Strangely, HELV100 and 100Buddy don't conflict as much on an HP 200LX. Thanks to Gilles Kohl of Germany for the FCL font loading program and Ruud Th. van der Ham of the Netherlands for HELV100.

REMKEY: It's finger-licking good

Most of the time I use my HP 100LX as a memory-jogger. It keeps me on schedule, and when I'm lecturing, it keeps me on the topic. My 100LX also acts as a database for easily forgotten bits of information.

About the only time that I enter information into the Palmtop is when I'm sitting at a desk. That's when I update my ToDo list, revise lecture notes, write memos or enter students' grades in a 1-2-3 worksheet. That's also when I'm glad I have another of the programs on the PowerDisk, REMKEY.

REMKEY is an abbreviation of "Remote Keyboard". It lets me connect the 100LX to a desktop computer and use a full-sized keyboard to do all my data entry on the HP Palmtop.

When REMKEY is running, the small machine becomes an extension of the big one. I still view things on the 100LX's display, but the HP 100LX's Appointment Book, Calculator, 1-2-3, and databases feel as though they're part of the larger machine because my fingers never leave the full-sized keyboard.

REMKEY is a snap to use. For the simplest method of installation, simply connect the desktop to the Palmtop with an HP PC Connectivity Cable and put REMKEY.COM in the root directory of the 100LX and also in the root directory of your desktop's hard disk. Put the command remkey /2 /t /s in your desktop's AUTOEXEC.BAT file. Then put the command remkey in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file on the 100LX and reboot both machines. You may have to change "/2" to "/1" or "/3", depending on which serial port, on the desktop, is available for use.

When you're ready, just press the REMKEY startup hotkey, on the desktop. Then press (ALT)-1, (ALT)-3, and (ALT)-7 keys on the desktop's keyboard and watch FILER, APPT, and 1-2-3 come to life on the Palmtop. The first few times you see this happen, it may seem "unnatural," but take my word for it, you'll soon acquire a taste for REMKEY's capabilities.

REMKEY can be set to work in either direction. Suppose the keyboard on your desktop fails. In such an emergency, you can use the tiniest keyboard in the world to run your desktop machine. To do this you'll need to uninstall REMKEY on the 100LX by using the command remkey/u. Then use the command remkey /s/t. On your desktop PC uninstall REMKEY and then use the command remkey /2 /r. Press the 100LX hot-key to activate REMKEY and you'll be able to run the desktop from the tiny Palmtop keyboard. Personally, I hope you never have to use this trick, but it's good to know that it works.

REMZIP.ZIP , on this issue of the HP Palmtop Paper ON DISK, contains an article that describes how to combine the REMKEY and ZIP.COM programs to back up your Palmtop.

REMKEY works only partially on the HP 200LX since the 100LX and 200LX have a few different applications and some of the application hotkeys are in different positions.

Sad to say there's no equivalent program for the HP 95LX, but here are a couple of programs that will work on all the Palmtops.

Thanks for REMKEY goes to Craig Payne, also author of ACE's Magnify program (for more on Magnify, see July/August 94, page 20).

Taste this "hot" TODDY

This issue's Programmers' Corner (page 44) mentions TODDY as a replacement for DOSKEY. Well, it's more than a mere replacement -it's one dynamite program!

TODDY installation is a snap. The easiest way to do it is to copy TODDY.COM to the C:\ directory of the Palmtop; put the command toddy in the Palmtop's AUTOEXEC.BAT file and reset the computer. TODDY loads and resides in memory, waiting for you to use it. It doesn't interfere with the built-in applications and only works when you're at the DOS prompt.

When you're using DOS commands, TODDY becomes a real productivity tool. Before TODDY, my disk drives were littered with small batch files. TODDY lets me put all the commands from a batch file, on a single DOS command line and run it as a TODDY macro. I can assign the macro to any of the non-printing keys (e.g. ALT-L, Shift-F10, Ctrl-F3). When I'm satisfied that the key definitions are just the way I want them, I can issue the command toddy /w from the DOS prompt and all of the definitions become part of the TODDY program itself. Once TODDY.COM has been modified, my key definitions will survive even a (CTRL)-(SHIFT)-(ON) NO hard reboot.

The best thing about TODDY is that it gives you the ability to edit DOS command lines. The functioning of this feature is described in this issue's Programmer's Corner, pages 44-49.

The one thing you do NOT want to do with TODDY is compress it with DIET or PKLite . Nothing bad will happen at first. However, if you use the command toddy /w, and then unloaded and reloaded the program, TODDY most likely will cause your machine to lock up.

Thanks for TODDY goes to Eric Tauck.

Take a sip of ZIP

ZIP.COM is a small, fast, file transfer program that works on both the HP 95LX and 100/200LX, and lets you move files back and forth between your Palmtop and your PC. We've featured ZIP.COM in past issues of The Palmtop Paper. (See Mar/Apr 92 page 17, Jul/Aug 92 page 26, and Mar/Apr 93 page 17). As mentioned above, this month's Palmtop Paper ON DISK contains REMZIP.ZIP, a lengthy article that describes some of the power of ZIP.COM in performing backups.

ZIP.COM is one of the programs that stays on my HP 95LX. The small size of the program (about 12K bytes) is just right for the limited disk space on this machine. It may require a little extra typing to transfer one or two files, but with the help of a couple of batch files (included in REMZIP.ZIP ), backing up the whole HP 95LX is hassle-free.

Thanks goes to Eric Meyer for this little gem.

KCODE100: Something for programmers to sink their teeth into

KCODE100 is an HP 100LX database for power users and programmers. It contains all the keycodes for the 100LX and other PC keyboards.

Whenever you're digging into a hex dump of a program or System Macro file and come across what appears to be a keyboard scancode, you won't have to jump up and go the book shelf to look up the code in a reference book. Just start the KCODE database and type in the scancode. Usually the computer will find the key before you've typed the third hex digit. To go the other way, create a subset of the database in which the "Legend" field is the first field. This will let you type in the English word for the key and come close to finding the keycode.

[Thanks to this article's author, Ed Keefe, for KCODE100 -- Rich.]

95PANEL: Savor French programming

Paris, France, appears to be a hot-bed of handheld activity. We received several excellent programs from Jaques Belin, a programmer non pareil and the publisher of JPC, the journal of the French HP user's club (contact: PPC, BP 604, 75028 Paris cedex 01, FRANCE). JPC features articles on almost all the HP handheld products, including the HP 28, 48 calculators as well as the HP 95 and 100LX.

Among the many programs from Jaques, 95PANEL has earned a permanent place on my 95LX. The program makes it easy for 95LX users to view and set the volume, contrast, timeout period, etc. on that machine. It also shows the total RAM space, disk space and battery voltages. It's easy to install and easy to use. Merci, Jaques!

For dessert: Let the games begin

I'm neither a connoisseur of desserts nor a great user of game programs. Most game programs are like elaborate desserts: overdone and way too filling. I like simple desserts, such as a chocolate chip cookie or two, and I like simple game programs, such as checkers, or "Maze". Such simple desserts and games take me back to my childhood. They're relaxing, satisfying, and mentally unchallenging.

On the PowerDisk we included some simple game programs for your after-hour computing.

MAZE -- is for the 100/200LX user. This is one of the best maze generating and solving games around. It will create more mazes than you can imagine. None of them are too difficult. The only suggestions that I have for using this program is to choose option 2, "Full screen maze". You may have to toggle (ON)- (*) to improve the visibility of the display. Thanks goes to Jim Wargula for this game.

GAMES95.EXE -- for the HP 95LX gamesters, we included some old but tasteful goodies. The GAMES95.EXE file contains three, classic games for the HP 95LX: Checkers, Poker Solitaire, and MasterMind. The programs will also work on the HP 100/200LX in 40X16 text mode. The checkers game is beatable, if you don't make any mistakes.

MasterMind is the original game of inductive/deductive logic. On the HP Palmtops, the game is played using numbers rather than colored tiles, but it's still an interesting diversion. You might use this game in place of listening to after-dinner speeches.

GARLIC: Aiding database digestion

Badly prepared food can do strange things to your stomach: so can badly corrupted databases. This program acts as a digestive aid for the occasionally mangled database on the HP 100/200LX.

GARLIC is a database recon-structor that can fix damaged 100/200LX data files for the APPT, PHONE, NOTETAKER, and DATABASE applications. It was written by Andy Gryc, the individual who developed the HP 100/200LX database engine. It works by scanning a corrupt database for records that are still valid. It then writes those to a new file for you to examine and edit. GARLIC won't work on database files with passwords nor has it been tested on every possible corrupted database. Nonetheless, this is one of those programs, like Norton's Disk Doctor, that you'll be glad to have, if you ever need it.

Here's hoping that you'll never have to use GARLIC and that you'll enjoy the rest of this year's PowerDisk. If you do, thank Andy Gryc for this Palmtop "Pepto Bismol."

Delicious, but no room on the plate

The following programs almost made it onto the PowerDisk. They're quite delicious, but the disk was stuffed. They're all freeware and we'll put them on this issue's The HP Palmtop Paper ON DISK.

BACKGM.ZIP

Backgammon is another game, for the 100LX. The game runs in CGA B/W mode and appears to work well. Once again, I wish I knew how to play this game. It looks like a real time-waster. [Hal likes it because he can beat it.] The ZIP file includes source code.

MATRX100.ZIP

This is my kind of program. I'd spent a couple of months looking for a program that would let me do text book matrix problems. I didn't want all the extras of DERIVE or MathCAD. I was getting myself psyched up to write my own program when I ran across this jewel. If you're into matrices, this one may be to your liking as well. Not only is it free, but the documentation also tells you how to get more programs of the same caliber for free (or the cost of a few disks.)

MLSHUT.EXE

This file contains the "Shut The Box" game. The game uses text graphics and is very readable on the HP 100LX's LCD screen.

TERSE.ZIP

This archive contains four tiny text editors They're all modeled after the TED editor from PC Magazine. However, as the author claims, all the code is original. You can take your pick of which of the four programs you want to use. I've tried them all and found that they work. The author is to be complimented and encouraged to continue refining the programs. Maybe you'll agree with me that the first "fix" would be to make the function keys conform more to standard usage.

MLYAHT.ZIP

This classic Yahtzee dice game plays only on the HP 100LX. I just wish I knew how to play it.

iPhone Life magazine


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