More questions, more answers leading to more questions.
Dear Judi and Frank,I own a Kaypro 2X CP/M computer, Wordstar 3.3, a footnoting program that works with Wordstar, and a Juki daisywheel printer. I don't want a new computer but I'd like a faster printer.
I've been told that Wordstar 3.3 won't drive today's dot matrix printers so I'd need Wordstar 4. I heard that WS4 is slower in some respects, and I hate to invest in more software for this machine. What should I do?
Professor in Delaware, OH
You were a brave pioneer when you bought CP/M in its prime, early in the 1980s. That's a long time ago as personal computer technology is measured. Now you're suffering the fate of all pioneers: technology passed you by.
If you buy a new printer, your only choice is to update to Wordstar 4 since it controls many newer, faster printers that won't work with 3.3.
Thank your lucky stars that you can update! Wordstar's about the only company we know that's still supporting computers of your vintage with updates, and Kaypro is one of only four machines it still supports.
A Wordstar update costs less than a hundred dollars. You'll enjoy some good new features, and I think you'll find that the pluses make up for the minuses. Wordstar 4 can read your 3.3 files, but phone customer service at MicroPro (Wordstar's maker) to find out if it can work with your footnote program.
But wait. Why buy a new printer? Most people don't care how slow the printer is, so long as they're not kept waiting while it does its thing. If that's your case, just add a printer buffer.
Buffers fool computers into thinking they're connected to super high-speed printers. A buffer frees up your computer for more word processing and then spoon-feeds your slow printer word by word.
Quadram's Microfazer and Microfazer II are the easiest buffers to install and use. A new Microfazer II unit costs about $300- probably less than new software plus a new printer. And you can use the buffer with your next computer, too.
Dear Frank and Judi,
I read your column dealing with desktop publishing (DTP). You devoted only one paragraph to the most vexing problem - learning how to do it. I have spent many, many hours learning just the basics of DTP, and I don't have complex software. I never spent as much time studying a program, whether it was word processing, data base management, or spreadsheet work.
In essence, I had to learn to be a publisher and typesetter, from leading to points to fonts.
In future columns on DTP, you may want to warn those considering it that unless they will use it regularly, the learning process may consume far more time than is worth the effort.
State Representative David Harris, Arlington Heights, IL
Dear Representative Harris,
Your point is well taken. We hope readers didn't miss our warning, in that very column, that up to 200 hours are needed just to learn to run a DTP program.
One of our problems, in writing these columns, is political - something you, as a professional politician, can appreciate. In the six years we've been at it, many in the industry, including dealers, have accused us of holding back progress with our warnings about new, unperfected computer applications like DTP.
To keep the dealers and local computer execs from harrassing our 50 editors around the country, we soft-pedal many warnings and provisos. But we never leave any out when they're needed. Never!
Dear Judi and Frank,
As your recent column suggested, I became a more powerful user of Lotus 1-2-3 and MS DOS through reading books you recommended and applying the concepts.
Can you suggest books to help me understand local area networks (LANs) and operating systems such as UNIX and Xenix?
Fan in Spring Lake Heights, NJ
An operating system is a collection of intelligent programs which help our simple-minded computers clean house and monitor traffic. Even before MS DOS was released, UNIX was an old, relatively powerful operating system that could serve more than one user at a time. Unfortunately, it was not an easy system for non-techies to master.
UNIX's supporters took so long to make UNIX more user friendly, by the time it was attractive its better features were already copied into competing operating systems such as MS DOS.
Now, like everything else in the computer industry, UNIX is suffering from lack of standardization. There must be at least a dozen different varieties. Xenix and System V are among the more popular.
To understand UNIX and its derivatives, two good and fairly simple books are Exploring the UNIX Environment by Pasternack (Bantam Computer Books) and Exploring the UNIX System by Kochan and Wood (Hayden Books). For heavier reading but more depth, look at Introducing the UNIX System or Introducing UNIX System V by Morgan and McGilton (McGraw-Hill).
There are no great books on LANs, but you might try Local Area Networks in Large Organizations by Thomas Madron (Hayden Books) and Local Area Networks by James H. Green (Scott Foresman).
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