SoftStar News

August 1999

Upgrades in the Works

Color charts come to the Mac! The IO Edition software, the astrological mainstay for Macintosh owners for over a decade, is about to be upgraded to color. You'll be able to both view and print out charts (on color printers) in full, glorious colors. Mac owners have yearned for this feature for years, and now will finally have it.

GeoVision Software's Parashara's Light 2000 is nearing completion, and includes many more pages of interpretation, for natal, chart comparisons, yearly (Varshaphal) charts, and more. I've seen sample printouts that look good, but haven't received a beta test copy yet.

GeoVision is also releasing the electional program Shri Muhurta, to automate the selection of the best date, within a specific time period, for beginning an activity (marriage, business, etc.). A beta test copy was shipped to me today.

Junior Jyotish, the freeware Vedic astrology program from Brian Conrad, has just been enhanced, again!!! It has greater accuracy, print preview, transits, ephemeris viewing and printing, dasas down to the pratyantar level, six divisional charts, system approach analysis of both natal positions and transits, and prashna features. What an excellent free program! To get it click here

Neat Stuff

New Free Software!

Cosmic Patterns has just released their first free astrology program. Called Starlite, the software can create both natal and secondary progressed chart wheels and tables for eleven house systems and the sidereal Fagan-Bradley ayanamsa. Starlite shows not only the standard planets, but also the nodes, Transneptunians, asteroids, the comet Chiron, Part of Fortune, Vertex, and Equatorial Ascendant.

The chart wheel page, which prints in color, shows the declination, speed, and heliocentric longitude for all points, has an extensive major and minor aspect grid with orbs, angular separations, and applying/separating tags, a table of parallels, and of course a very nicely drawn chart wheel complete with aspect lines drawn in.

Starlite even has a built-in time change atlas, for automatic entry of longitude, latitude, and time zone, for 1158 cities around the World, including some major U.S. cities. You can get Starlite for free by clicking here. Just run the "Starsetup.exe" program and it will install itself.

Copy Protection, Bugs, and other Issues

I just received a review copy of a new program that has been shipping for months, from a major astrology software firm. The program was far from complete. Its help file was still fragmentary, and the program both crashed and had some inaccuracies in its calculations. While the company involved was very open to my feedback, and plans to fix the software, it has not stopped shipping the program.

This highlights the difficulties companies find themselves in. They want to provide the best software, but economic realities -- and impatient customers who are waiting for software that was announced and ordered months ago -- pressure them to make unfortunate and inappropriate decisions to ship too quickly.

In an ideal world, companies wouldn't announce their software until it was fully field tested. That's why it is vital that people test updates and new programs fully for completeness, stability (no crashes), and accuracy. This is especially true for completely new software. Remember, if you are thinking of getting a new program, you can check with me before ordering it, to see if I've tested it.

I also want to remind readers to test the programs that they already own. In my last issue, I gave some sample dates to use for testing, but I haven't received any email replies. If enough people want to continue testing their programs, I'll provide additional test data.

Important Notes

I often receive comments from astrologers that astrological software is late to ship, and that the early releases of a new version are buggy. Please help companies stomp out bugs by reporting exactly what you did (so that they can replicate the bug), and bear with them because programming is both very hard work and "getting the bugs out" is the very hardest part. That's also why I always recommend holding off on getting new versions for at least 3 to 6 months after they start to ship (not the after the date that they are announced).

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Copyright © 1999 Hank Friedman