Mark Scardina and I (Ed Keefe) each used Forth from Essex Marketing, Inc. (see UTIL review, page 11) to create "loaders" that allowed specific DOS applications to pop up over most built-in 95LX programs.
It was only a matter of a few hours before both Mark and I had most of our favorite DOS programs popping up on top of FILER, CALC, MEMO, etc. At that time I discovered a human memory problem: I couldn't remember which hot key triggered what program!
A POP-UP MENU PROGRAM
To get around the limitations of only eight add-in programs, and to overcome the lack of personal (human) short term memory, I developed a program I call MENU95. This menu program is a .EXM program that I have added to APNAME.LST. (See previous sidebar and Hearts & Bones/TigerFox sidebar, pages 18 and 8) It pops-up over the built-in programs and displays a list of all my add-in applications. My APNAME.LST file needs only one line, and better still, there's only one hot-key to remember.
When the hot-key is pressed, a menu of all the standard DOS programs appears. To run a program, you merely press a letter.
A "MENU ENGINE"
I have taken the idea one step further and created a menu system that will let you run up to 81 programs on your 95LX. The Menu Engine package, called MGN-LX, comes with a set of instructions to let you design your own menu system. Menu Engine lets you have either Lotus-style or pull-down menus. Currently, MGN-LX comes, as a bonus, to registered users of The Diversion Disk described in the games article on page 7.
As discussed above, there is now a way to launch DOS programs without going through the process of closing the built-in applications and going to FILER. I call this type of program, "System-Executable," to differentiate from a true System-Manager-compliant application (see sidebar).
JAGMENU was written to simplify the process of running DOS programs from System Manager. JAGMENU is a System-Executable menu system that permits an unlimited number of programs and DOS commands to be run from one APNAME.LST hotkey. Any command that can be run from a batch file can be used. JAGMENU also saves disk space since it allows all of your .BAT files that launch DOS applications to reside in one file.
When set up and activated by pressing <ALT>-j, JAGMENU displays a 22-item menu that allows activation of each item by simply pressing its associated letter. When the application or command is exited, you are returned to the menu. Pressing x returns you to your built-in applications right were you left off.
JAGMENU has three modules:
Setup is simply a matter of editing JAGMENU.BAT in MEMO and then optionally using BAT2EXE to compile it.
You are not limited to one menu, additional ones can be called from the main one. This allows for a great deal of customization and an unlimited number of choices. Each menu takes only 6-7K of memory when run and removes itself when you exit the menu.
The existence of JAGMENU and other similar programs increases the usability of the HP 95LX enormously. A little effort is required to set this type of program up, but in the end the resulting ease of operation is impressive and indeed worthwhile.
All of these menu systems go a long way toward making it easier to use standard DOS applications on the 95LX. However, they do have their limitations. In particular, when you're running a standard DOS program from the menu systems, not all of the built-in applications are available. Specifically, when you are in a MENU95 or JAGMENU application there is no way to pop-up FILER, MEMO, or APPT. While in JAGMENU or MENU95 you don't have access to any of the 95LX's built-in applications. You have to quit DOS program to use any one of the 95LX's ROMbased applications.
Neither menu systems will pop up as long as Lotus 1-2-3 is active. In some cases, if PHONE or APPT are running and contain large data files, the menu systems will fail.
If you have more than two or three DOS applications on the HP 95LX, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of one of these menu systems and try it out.
Both MENU95 * and JAGMENU * are freeware and can be found in the HPSYS forum on CompuServe (as MENU95.ZIP and JAGMNU.ZIP). Both programs will also be included on this issue of The HP Palmtop Paper On Disk.