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Help! Choosing a Product of the Year Isn't Easy
We'll nominate 95Buddy, SWITCH! 2.0, the ACE! Double Card as contenders, but which products do you think are the best? While you're thinking, take a look at Sokoban, Games95, the spell checker and graphics generator mentioned later in this article.
By Hal GoldsteinProducts of the year
Innovation spawns innovation. The HP 95LX Palmtop PC has spawned a mini-industry. Page through this issue and be astounded at the creativity of vendors who have developed solutions to make the HP 95LX even more useful then it already is.
What about a "product of the year"? When you combine all the freeware and shareware software with commercial hardware and software there are more than five hundred products to choose from. "Objectively" choosing the best products would be a difficult task.
Instead I will begin a discussion. If you have a product that you cannot live without, please write in. We will publish your responses in the next few issues. Perhaps towards the end of 1993 we will ask for submissions as to your vote for product of the year, 1993.
Many hardware and software candidates come to mind as possible "products of the year". I'll start our discussion with three utilities that extend and expand on the 95LX's built-in capabilities.
As we were putting this issue to bed, I received the latest version of 95Buddy (reviewed on page 6 of the July/August 92 issue, update information, page 18 this issue). Awesome! I have just played with it for a few minutes. There are over 100 new features to make your life with the HP 95LX easier. 95Buddy is designed to let users of the HP 95LX built-in software accomplish more with fewer, more intuitive keystrokes. Here are just a few example:
The documentation in the new 95Buddy is complete and easy to use.
[Jeffrey Mattox gives a list of 95LX bugs in the next issue -Rich.]
My second nomination is SWITCH! 2.0. SWITCH! has been well-chronicled in this issue (pages 25 and 52) and in the July/August 92 issue, page 8. Allowing a host of new programs to work fully in conjunction with the built-in applications is a gigantic achievement. One new feature of SWITCH! I can't live without: The ability to run DOS programs without exiting built-in applications.
Finally, and perhaps the most important new utility is the ACE double-card software (see review in the September/October 92 issue, page 17 and the ad in this issue, inside front cover). This custom version of Stacker for the HP 95LX makes data compression invisible to the user. Put double-card software on your RAM disk or built-in C drive and you double the amount of disk space available. Real estate is precious and expensive on the HP 95LX. Double card software is a cost-effective way to increase that disk space for your files.
I look forward to your recommendations of indispensable products.
In the Jan/Feb 1992 issue we devoted quite a bit of space to games including hidden built-in Hearts and Bones as well freeware and shareware games. Here is a brief update on the games front.
Sokoban <ON DISK ICON> has emerged as one popular free game for those long hours in airports. (If you're a bit compulsive you might avoid this game of logic as it could cost you. And yes, each maze has a solution.) Sokoban consists of a series of some 85 mazes, each a separate puzzle. The idea is to push objects through a maze until they are all in the dump. As you may have guessed, this isn't always easy: You can only push; you can only move one object; the maze doesn't give you much room to maneuver; other objects tend to act as movable walls. Sokaban can be found on Internet, CompuServe Handheld forum, and The HP Palmtop Paper ON DISK.
Sparcom, with their new Games95, has come up with a coup of sorts -- some classic games incredibly well-implemented on the HP 95LX. The user interface and graphics are outstanding and the computer in most cases does a reasonably good job holding its own in competition.
Games95 includes Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, Space Invaders, and Tetris.
All the games but Tetris are written by Andrew Glaister. Yann Rousse has enhanced the same version of Tetris that appeared on the free 1992 Subscribers Disk to include a horizontal as well as a vertical board.
If you are a game enthusiast, you should also consider the ACE GAMEcard VOLUME 1. The card includes Tetris, Blackjack, Craps, Adventure, Reversi, Go, Poker, and more (14 games on a ROM card). Many of these games are written by contributing editor Ed Keefe. Installation and access is simple. Put GAMEcard in the 95LX card slot, press (ALT)-(MENU), and up pops an ICON-filled screen written by Dave Goodman.
Move the cursor to your program (for example, the dice are craps) press (ENTER) and you start playing.
A spell-checker and a graphics generator have surfaced. Physician and contributing editor Robert S. Williams not only found the Sokoban game, but located two other programs of interest. SPEL95.ZIP <ON DISK ICON> is freeware and the first spelling-checker alternative to HP's Dictionary/Thesaurus card that works with MEMO. It is good for catching typos. This is a unique TSR spell-checker that works on the 95LX. You load the program at boot-up and it occupies 60K of system RAM. Then it is activated by pressing (CTRL) three times. (the program beeps when activated). After that, as you type, each time (<Spacebar>) or (ENTER) is pressed the word to the left is checked. If the program recognizes the word, nothing happens. If the program does not, then it beeps. To deactivate, press (CTRL) three times.
According to Robert, GRAPHI.ZIP <ON DISK ICON> is the best 95LX graphics drawing/viewing package. It can import .PCX graphics files, draw circles and rectangles automatically, allow single pixel drawing, and create lines and fills shapes automatically. The author asks a $5 shareware contribution.
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