While this issue of SoftStar News has been delayed by the number of articles in it, I have made it a very special issue. I hope that you enjoy it,
and wish you many blessings!
Note: Since many astrologers are not computer wizards, I have decided to include in this and future issues of SoftStar News important information on keeping your computer working and secure, and a new section on tips on using your favorite astrology programs more effectively. I hope that you like these new additions.
The Optimal Use of Astrology Software – Revised!
I recently got inspired, by an email from one of my website visitors who praised my Optimal Use of Astrology Software, to revise the article.
For those who haven't yet read it, it gives you accuracy tests, alerts you to design flaws in almost every astrology program, and tells you which astrological techniques are useless if the birth time is at all inaccurate (and much more).
I've added information on protecting your PC, an advanced atlas test (see below), testing and fixed all of the links for updating your programs for free, and many additional corrections and additions.
Everyone who uses astrology software should read this article.
To read the new revised version, click here.
Completely Protect Your PC
We live in an age that is full of potential challenges, and the more we are connected to the Internet, and the more we use our computers, the more prone we are to encounter problems.
Most of you probably already have installed anti-virus software and a firewall to keep hackers out. If you have not done both of these, and "surf the 'net" (i.e. use the internet) frequently, you are risking losing everything on your PC and even having your personal data scrutinized from the outside.
Unfortunately, now there are new dangers. As many of you already know, there are programs, called spyware, that get installed on your computer as you visit websites, and they can send information from your PC to others via the internet.
To protect myself from these "malware", I use two excellent free programs:
Owning more than one Astrology Program
Most people don't think twice about owning many major appliances, and dozens of tools, books, cds, dvds, etc. At the same time, however, most astrologers think that they can only afford to buy (or justify buying) one astrology program. This is a shame, because every major program has its own strengths, and by only allowing themselves one piece of astrology software, they miss the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of features and functions.
Whether one is a Vedic astrologer or Western astrologer, beginner or advanced, there are many programs that will enrich both their understanding of astrology and the employment of techniques.
For example, some programs produce stunning charts, while others do the best astro-maps; some include lessons, glossaries, astrological reference materials, or interpretations, while others have stunning animation features; some excel at research tools, others at rectification or transit graphs or advanced predictive methods.
And most astrologers don't realize the bargain they're getting. If astrology programs were priced similarly to office software, they'd cost at least twice as much, and since they are actually more like financial modeling tools, they should cost three to four times as much. But the market for astrology software (especially professional programs) is relatively tiny, and so the dedication of astrologers who create such advanced and powerful programs at such low prices is truly phenomenal.
And as I mentioned in my last issue of SoftStar News, more programs and improved programs keep getting created, and so we astrologers are blessed with an abundance of incredible tools.
My new Tips and Tricks Astrology Software Column
Since I have such extensive experience in evaluating and using most astrology programs, I have decided to add a new section to SoftStar News: Tips and Tricks. Each issue, I will share important understandings and powerful tips in using a specific software program more effectively.
This first column deals with AstroDatabank:
Using AstroDatabank Effectively
I have been doing a great deal of astrological research lately, for my recent talk at Fort Mason for NCGR (on the Blending of Skies, using Vedic techniques in your Western Astrology practice) and for future talks.
In the process, I discovered that it is crucial to know certain things about AstroDatabank.
1. Since many factors are pre-calculated in the database, such as aspects, you cannot search for aspects with a larger orb than was used in the initial calculation, unless you change the orb and recalculate the entire database. E.g. I was searching for Uranus within 10 degrees of any angle, and noticed that not nearly enough records were showing up. It turned out that I had forgotten that I had Astrodatabank calculate all of the aspects with a one degree orb! And so any search for aspects above one degree would still ONLY show those with one degree orbs.
2. The placement of records in each of the Categories of Astrodatabank is somewhat incomplete. Imagine having to encode for 28,000 records for whether each one fit into each of hundreds of categories. What a daunting task! I have found that omissions are not uncommon, for example women who have no children not showing up under that category, alcoholics missed in the alcoholic category, etc. In general, Astrodatabank is remarkable in its accuracy in category placements, but in researching lottery winners, I was surprised to find several people showed up who hadn't won a lottery! In all fairness, the category is Financial Gain: Winnings/Lottery. My advice is to be careful in using categories, especially subjective ones.
When you are doing research and using categories, you will want to hand-select a subset of charts in a category, in order to create a homogeneous group. For those who show up in the lottery winners category, for example, you might want to exclude family members of lottery winners or those who won large (or small) lawsuits.
By the way, when I pointed out omissions and such to the company, they were both grateful and very responsive, and said that they welcome corrections to the databank, so please feel free to contact them when you run across any kind of error or omission.
3. Always use Filters for searching for single factors instead of AstroSignatures if you are not doing weightings. The time to use AstroSignatures is when you are searching to find people who have factor one or factor two or factor three or any combination of multiple factors. Note: filter calculations are faster than AstroSignature calculations, and even with my fast 3200+ processor, waiting is a drag.
I am incredibly grateful that a research program such as AstroDatabank exists. With its excellent biographies, huge collection of charts, and powerful research tools, it is an essential program for any astrologer's toolbox.
Attention Software Developers:
Using my Tutorials and Essays in your Astrology Software
I would like to share my many tutorials and essays with a larger astrological audience.
Therefore, I am extending a general offer to every software creator that if you want to use any of my 60+ essays/tutorials in Western astrology, or any of my 30+ essays/tutorials in Vedic astrology, you are free to include them in your software. My only requirement is that they be appropriately credited to me, with my vitae, contact information, URL, etc.
Please email me by clicking here
to discuss using my articles if you decide to do so.
Solar Fire 6 to be released early in 2006
Esoteric Technologies, Inc. has announced that the long-awaited update to Solar Fire will be released by Spring of 2006.
I have not yet seen a pre-release copy of the program, but am eagerly awaiting it.
Stay tuned to this column!
A First Look at the latest version of Millennium Star Trax: Version 5
I recently received an update to A.I.R. Software's astrology program, Millennium. The new version, 5.0, shows that Millennium has matured beautifully.
The Time Ruler, for example, is a simple to use tool for advancing a chart step-by-step or automatically by any increment forward or backward in time. When you view a biwheel of transits around a natal chart, for example, you can not only watch aspect lines form and disappear, but they get thicker to indicate growing strength and thinner to indicate weaker strength.
One of the wishes that I had for Millennium has been fulfilled. Now the Personal Calendar lists transit to natal aspects (instead of vice versa), which I really like.
The new Harmonic Rating shows how strong each harmonic is for a person's chart. You can select the highest harmonic to include (up to the 36th), and quickly see the most active harmonics. The Arabian Parts module is nicely designed too. It allows you to view a chart and select a specific part, and immediately see both the position the part occupies and any aspects it makes to natal points. You can select from a large number of parts, and also view a list of them.
I love the new Multi Black Box, which allows you to select a group of people, companies, etc. and look at rise and fall of energy for different themes (e.g. money, work, love, etc.) for all of them as a group, over whatever period of time you select.
The new Key Points Diagram allows you to quickly see when the transits that are happening now (for a person) have happened before, so that you can easily see how they manifested in the past and therefore their likely present effects.
What impresses me most about Millennium Star Trax version 5 is how integrated its functions are throughout the program. You really have to play with it to really appreciate what I mean. For example, it is simple to change the time period of any search, or the planets involved, or the aspects used, or the orb, or save graphics as bitmaps in each module.
Navigating the program is now easier, with several ways to get to the same function, and many additional features have been added, far too many for this "first look" to cover.
My New Advanced Atlas Test
Here are a list of some cities that are particularly good for testing whether your atlas is completely trustworthy. Even atlases that generally do well may fail at some of these. If so, please make sure you have the latest version of your atlas/software, and if so, contact your software manufacturer.
May 1, 1954 1: 42 am Clifford, Indiana (6 hr west time zone, DST observed)
Ascendant = 4 Aquarius 27
May 1, 1954 1:42 am Clifty, Indiana (6 hr west time zone, No DST)
Ascendant = 25 Aquarius 13
Oct 1, 1992 12:01 pm Managua, Nicaragua (6 hr westtime zone, No DST)
Ascendant = 8 Capricorn 38
Oct 1, 1993 12: 01 pm Managua, Nicaragua (5 hr west time zone, No DST)
Ascendant = 25 Sagittarius 34
Jan 1, 1998 9:30 am Windhoek, Namibia (1 hr east time zone, DST observed)
Ascendant = 23 Aquarius 48
Apr 15, 2000 1: 30 pm Nazareth, Israel (2 hr east time zone, DST observed)
Ascendant = 15 Leo 04
July 30, 2004 10:00 am Baghdad, Iraq (DST observed)
Ascendant = 23 Virgo 45
Kepler 7, with its superbly accurate internal atlas, and all programs with up-to-date ACS atlas data calculate all of these correctly. When software authors choose to develop their own atlases, instead of using the industry-standard ACS atlas data, errors can creep it and places omitted.
At the time of testing, December 2004, several major programs couldn't find a city or gave the wrong time zone for a place or two, but I'm happy to report that every manufacturer immediately addressed the issue. Please remember to get the latest atlas updates when they become available for your software.
Important Note: If you are creating charts for newborns living in foreign countries, go to www.timeanddate.com to confirm the correct time zone. According to David Cochrane of Cosmic Patterns, this website is an excellent source for accurate contemporary time zone information.
Discounts on Software
Software discounts starting December 2004: When you purchase astrology software through me, you will get:
1. My free expert guidance in choosing the right program.
2. The best pricing distributors are allowed to offer.
3. Free U.S. shipping, unless prohibited by the manufacturer, and for some programs, free Priority shipping.
4. Additional benefits. E.g. I offer a very inexpensive excellent transit report for purchasers of Kepler & Sirius, over 60 free beautiful extra artistic wheels for Solar Fire Gold, etc.
5. You are supporting my website, allowing me to continue posting astrology tutorials, software reviews, and much more.
6. Your software is fully registered to you and shipped to you directly from the manufacturer, with their full customer support as well as mine.
To go to my secure astrology software order form, click here.
You can support SoftStar News by:
Telling others about our website.
Sending us your insights and feedback on astrology software,
Alerting us to new programs and astrological resources,
Linking your website to ours,
and by purchasing your astrological software through this site.
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