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HOW TO USE: InfoSelect Freeform Database

HOW TO USE: How to Get InfoSelect Working On Your HP 95LX!

This "random information processor" makes it easy to save, and later find those odd pieces of information that never seem to fit into a regular database.

By Victor Roberts

InfoSelect is an easy-to-use information storage and retrieval program for MS-DOS computers. Billed as a "random information processor," InfoSelect stores data of any kind in "windows" which appear on your screen in the form of "Post-it" type notes. Using InfoSelect's GET command, information can be retrieved simply by entering any character string that appears in the note. Let's say you have the following note entered in InfoSelect:

The HP Palmtop Paper

Thaddeus  Computing, Inc.

110 North Court St

Fairfield, IA 52556

(877) 202-9386

(641) 472-1382

FAX: (641) 472-1879

You can find this note by entering Thaddeus, or 52556, or Palmtop, etc. You can find all notes containing fax numbers by entering FAX.

InfoSelect is not limited to lists of phone numbers. You can use it to store birthdays, project information, a list of the records or video tapes in your collection, etc.

In addition to simple information retrieval, InfoSelect can automatically dial a phone number found in a note, remind you of to-do notes based on dates entered into the note, and link multiple notes with hypertext.

InfoSelect is designed to run as a TSR on desktop PCs. However, it can also be run as a stand-alone application. This mode is recommended for use with the HP 95LX, as well as with multi-tasking environments such as Desqview and Windows.

While InfoSelect is designed for a standard 80-column-by-25-row screen, an interesting adjustment described below makes it highly compatible with the 40-column-by-16-row screen on the 95LX.

When run as a DOS TSR, InfoSelect can "grab" a screen-full of data from the underlying application, and "paste" data into underlying applications. It includes a decent editor that supports WordStar-like editing commands. The editor supports cut-and-paste within a window (note) and between different notes. It can print one or many copies of any note.

InfoSelect supports a maximum of 32,000 characters per note, and 10M per database. Since the whole database is kept in system RAM, (including EMS) the maximum size of a database on the 95LX will be about 500K. (I don't use databases greater than about 30K.)

I have used both InfoSelect 1.05 and 2.0 on my 95LX. Except where indicated, the comments in this article should apply to both versions.

Minimum Disk Space Requirements

The minimum installation of InfoSelect requires the following seven files: IS.EXE, MENU.WD, USER.WD, BASE.WD, SCREEN, NORM.LA, and GLOBAL.GA. You can use DIET or PKLITE to compress the IS.EXE file. (I used DIET 1.20 (ON DISK ICON). Later versions of DIET are available and may give different compressed file sizes.) With IS.EXE compressed, a minimum installation of InfoSelect 2.0 requires 113,152 bytes of disk space plus room for your BASE.WD data file. InfoSelect 1.05 needs 104,960 bytes of disk space plus room for the BASE.WD file. I attempted to Diet BASE.WD, but got very little compression. (Editor's Note: BASE.WD is the data file that gets loaded automatically when you start InfoSelect. All InfoSelect data files have the .WD extension.)

If you intend to edit and save your BASE.WD file or any other *.WD file, you will need free disk space equal to the size of that file.

InfoSelect Adjustments

Make the following adjustments to InfoSelect and it will be easier to use on the 95LX:

Display One Note at a Time

From within InfoSelect, set the number of windows displayed by pressing A(djust), W(indows). Then press (<DownArrow>) twice until the "Max Windows" screen is displayed. Press 1 (one) and then (ENTER). Finally, press (ESC) (ESC) to return to the main display. [Note: According to PTP subscriber Wingfang Li, the "thick line current window frame" doesn't display well on the 95LX. He suggests changing that to either the single or double line option. He also suggests using InfoSelect's SETUP.EXE program to change display "colors" to find the best combination for the 95LX.]

Change Window Size to Fit 95LX Display

Change the default size for the new windows so it matches the 40column-by-16-row screen on the 95LX. To set the default size of new windows, press N to create a new window. Then press (ENTER) 12 times (13 times in Version 1.05) and press any regular character to mark the end of the window. Then press (ESC) and use the Right, Down and Up Arrows to adjust the size of the new window to fit the 95LX screen. Press (ESC) again to set the size of the new window. Next press X(tra) F(rame) and choose option 1. Answer Y(es) to the, "Are You Sure", question. Then press D(isk) S(ave) to save the adjustments. You can then T(hrow) away the new window and do another D(isk) Save).

Reduce Time for Activation of Screen Saver Function

InfoSelect interferes with the operation of the 95LX's auto-shutoff timer. This feature automatically shuts down the Palmtop after three minutes of inactivity to save battery life (95Buddy (ON DISK ICON) or Timeout (ON DISK ICON) will let you to change this default setting). When InfoSelect is displaying a note, the 95LX apparently thinks the program is active and will not automatically shut down to save batteries. InfoSelect has its own screen saver function with a default setting of 10 minutes. The 95LX auto-shutoff timer does not start running until the InfoSelect screen saver cuts in. So if your 95LX is set to shut off after three minutes of inactivity, it will take 10 minutes for InfoSelect to go into its screen saver mode and another three for the 95LX to shut down.

After InfoSelect shuts the screen down, you can bring it back by pressing (<Spacebar>). After the 95LX shuts down, you have to press both (ON) and (<Spacebar>) (<Spacebar>).

The EDIT mode of InfoSelect does not enable the screen saver, and does not disable the 95LX timer so, if you are editing a note, your 95LX will shut down in the normal time.

Set the InfoSelect screen saver to its minimum value of one minute so InfoSelect will have the least effect on your 95LX's auto-shutoff. (Setting the screen saver to zero keeps the InfoSelect screen active all the time, and the 95LX auto-shutoff does not work.)

To reduce the time for activation of the screen saver function in InfoSelect, press A(djust) V(ideo). Then press (<DownArrow>) twice to bring up the "Auto Screen Blanker" display, press 1 (ENTER)(ESC)(ESC) to return to the Note display. Press D(isk), S(ave) to save the settings.

This completes the InfoSelect adjustments.

Using InfoSelect on the 95LX

If you use your 95LX primarily in DOS mode, load InfoSelect as a TSR just as you do on your desktop. (This involves placing a command in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file or manually starting InfoSelect in the normal manner). InfoSelect will not pop up over the built-in applications when loaded as a TSR program. If you mix DOS and built-in applications you will need to run InfoSelect in the nonresident mode.

Batch File for Loading InfoSelect

A good way to start up InfoSelect is to create a batch file (IS.BAT (ON DISK ICON)) that performs three actions. First, it turns off cursor tracking on the 95LX to make sure your one InfoSelect window is always visible on the 95LX screen. It also makes sure that the Alt-Arrow function is turned on. Next, it switches to the directory where you keep InfoSelect and starts InfoSelect with the N option to run non-resident. Finally, when you exit InfoSelect, it switches cursor tracking back on. The commands in the batch file look like this:

dispctl +k -c

a:

cd \is

is n

cd \

dispctl +k +c

I keep IS.BAT in C:\. I close all the built-in applications, highlight IS.BAT in FILER, and press (F4) and run InfoSelect.

A more convenient way to run InfoSelect, is to use a "loader" program to call IS.BAT (for more on loaders, see page 19, Jan/Feb 92 issue). A loader lets you use a hotkey to start up InfoSelect. The loader lets you start InfoSelect on top of other built-in applications (except 1-2-3). You have to exit InfoSelect before you can go back to the built-in applications.

I created my loader (IS.EXM (ON DISK ICON)) with a programming language called UTIL Forth (see page 31, Jan/Feb 92 issue), but you can also use Dave Goodman's LDRMKR (ON DISK ICON) to make your own loader. Remember that the loader should call IS.BAT, not InfoSelect itself.

Watch Out for These Glitches

When you start up InfoSelect, it stops at the "Welcome to InfoSelect" screen. Version 1.05 hangs up indefinitely. Version 2.0 hangs up for 10-20 seconds, depending on whether you are operating on battery power or AC power. With either version of InfoSelect you can clear the "Welcome" screen immediately by pressing any key.

The second problem is that the GET function runs very slowly when you are operating on battery power. When executing GET, InfoSelect constantly polls the keyboard for additional input. This puts the 95LX into its Light Sleep mode where the processor slows way down to conserve battery power. There is a two-part work-around for this problem. First, keep typing your search string even if InfoSelect has not completed its search for the characters already entered. Second, if you have entered your complete search string, or as much as you think you need, press (ENTER). This switches off keyboard polling since InfoSelect knows it does not need to check for more keyboard input. When keyboard polling stops, the 95LX will switch the processor back to full speed and the GET search will zip along at normal speed (for a 4MHz V20 processor.)

That's all folks! Have fun with InfoSelect on your 95LX. Please send me any suggestions for improving this set of instructions. Address them to the HPHAND forum on CompuServe, to my CompuServe ID, or to my Internet address shown above.

iPhone Life magazine


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