SoftStar News

January 2001

AstroDatabank 2.0

AstroDatabank 2.0 is finally ready to ship. It now has 23,000+ charts, is significantly faster, has full Vedic research features, and a sharply discounted introductory price. You can click here: to read my Mountain Astrologer review  and get details on the introductory pricing.

The Quick*Chart Format

For many years, I have championed the goal of having every astrology software program be able to read other programs' files, so that you could easily import data and not have to re-enter it again.

After all, every time you re-enter data by hand, you either have to be very careful or errors will creep in. I'd rather do it right in one program, and then just import the data to other software.

I have managed to get virtually all of the Vedic astrology software creators, as well as the Western astrology companies, to be able to import files in the Quick*Charts format.

Now, Solar Fire 5 will both import and export in this format. This means that anyone using Solar Fire can transfer their files at any time to any other program. What a great boon!

(Note: you can also use AstroDatabank version 2's importing and exporting ability to convert between many formats.)

Upgrades in the Works

I just received a review copy of Millenium Star Trax . Published by A.I.R. Software, the program is much more than just an update of their Win Trax software. I am presently preparing a review of the software for The Mountain Astrologer.

At first glance, one misses the layers upon layers of functionality built into the software, but fortunately, the creators of Millenium have built-in several demonstration tutorials that teach you how to use various features in the program.

The program is a bit ideosyncratic in how it goes about displaying things (e.g. natal to transits instead of vice versa in the transit calendar) and in how you navigate the software.

Nevertheless, Millenium has a multitude of features, from the more common Progressed, Return, Relationship, and Local Space charts, to the unique, very sophisticated, and esoteric. The more advanced features -- of which there are many more than I can begin to mention in this brief introduction -- include a monthly transit calendar (exact dates and times only), powerful, cumulative transit graphs, the Time Tunnel (a circular graphic ephemeris showing intersections of transits and progressions with natal points), event finders (find when a specific transit occurred), and extensive Arabic Parts.

You can examine whole chart files for the number of times any planet is in a sign, aspect, element, etc., and also search chart files for specific natal, progressed, or transiting aspects, etc. (like who has Sun conjunct Moon natally or at any specific time). Millenium includes basic page and wheel designers, a chart editor, planetary hours, Topocentric charts (planets drawn on the plane passing through the birthplace), and astronomical information such as velocity, latitude, distance values, including the ability to graph a planet's longitude, velocity, latitude, etc. over time.

It is the ability to create your own predictive tools, giving each type of event its own weighting, that makes Millenium Star Trax so powerful. With the proper amount of effort, astrologers can design models of their own to empower their predictive abilities.

The authors of Millenium Star Trax are in the process of creating and releasing several add-on modules for the software of significant value. Presently, a Rectification module and a Neural Net module are available.

Keep posted, and I'll introduce you to more about this unusual and fascinating program.

Neat Stuff

Jagannatha Hora Lite is a new free Vedic astrology program. It calculates an amazing number of Vedic charts and tables, including 20 divisional charts (16 charts + D-5, D-6, D-8 & D-11), plus the positions of nine planets, lagna, 3 special lagnas (ghati lagna, hora lagna & bhava lagna) and 11 upagrahas/sub-planets (Dhuma, Vyatipata, Parivesha, Indrachapa, Upaketu, Kaala, Mrityu, Artha Prahara, Yama Ghantaka, Mandi & Gulika), and arudha padas of all of the houses, and ashtakavarga, and sodya pindas in all of the twenty divisional charts .

Its dasha systems include Vimsottari dasa up to pratyantardasas (antaras), Ashtottari dasa (Aardraadi), and Kalachakra dasa upto antardasas (bhuktis). It also does tajaka varsha chakras (annual charts), sahams & pancha vargeeya bala and Patyayini dasa & Mudda dasa with Tajaka annual charts.

Additional features include tajaka sahams in natal charts; chara karakas (8-planet scheme); shadbalas, bhava balas & ishta-kashta phalas; lunar month, lunar day (tithi), luni-solar yoga, karana and sunrise time listing with charts (using the apparent rise of upper limb as advised by Varahamihira); nakshatra balance and tithi balance; support for several ayanamsas, and three formats of charts, North Indian, South Indian, and East Indian.

You can download it free by clicking here. Enjoy!

Copy Protection, Bugs, and other Issues

An interesting method of copy protection again highlights the problems with the methods used to prevent software piracy.

A friend of mine showed me her Palm Pilot palm computer, and it dawned on me (well, duh!) that I could have astrology wherever I went by getting a Palm computer for my pocket, loaded with astrology software. In fact, every professional astrologer should own a Palm computer because you'll be able to access both natal and transiting positions wherever you are.

Since I don't own a "palmtop" yet, I began testing both Western and Vedic astrology software for these palmtops via a software emulator -- a program that mimics an actual palm computer.

For three out of the four programs I am testing, I was able to select a User Name, and get the company that wrote the software to give me a code so that I could run the program on my emulator. The fourth company, however, requires a hardware code from an actual palm computer in order to unlock their software, and as a result, I can't test it until I buy a palm computer.

Any copy protection that makes you have to contact the company every time you upgrade your computer or get a new one is simply a pain in the neck, because it makes you dependent on the company's good will, availability, and continued existence. You don't really own the software in the same way as if you could put it on any computer that you purchase without getting a new code from them.

I am amazed at how often these protection schemes interfere with the ease of use of the ordinary, honest astrologer.

Important Notes

Let them know! I have found, over the years, that the major astrology software companies add new features to their programs in response to requests from customers. In other words, it is much more effective to email or write to companies and let them know what features or changes in the software that you'd like to see, than to simply contact me with that information.

When companies get several requests for the same feature, they place it higher on their to-do list. But they keep a careful record of who has given each suggestion, so don't pester them with the same request repeatedly, it won't work.

We're lucky to have companies that respond to our needs. Write to them when you see something you want them to add.

And we'll all benefit.

Discounts on Software

Software discounts starting January 2001: 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 Worldwide.

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.




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Copyright © 2001 Hank Friedman