SoftStar News

May 2001


I am happy to announce the release of the Janus 3.0 software.

The program is greatly enhanced, with many more features as well as earlier ones enhanced.

Janus 3 has a very large and extensive time change atlas built-in, as well as a Planetarium that shows constellation lines and names, and can be animated to move forward in time. It also has animated Quad-wheels and Cosmograms, allowing you to watch planetary patterns form right before your eyes.

It can import chart files from the Quick*Charts and AstroCalc formats, and export to Quick*Charts. Since most programs can read (and some can write) Quick*Charts format files, this ensures that you won't have to enter your data again to use Janus.

There are many new styles of wheels and pages, and a Wheel Designer and a Page Designer that are both quite easy to use and well designed.

However, my testing of the Page Designer brings up an issue. One of MicroSoft's biggest mistakes in designing Windows was to make the amount of memory set aside for System Resources small. System resources are areas of memory that are used by the Windows input manager (USER.EXE) and the graphic display interface manager (GDI.EXE) for keeping track of all of the windows that are open in a session and for drawing objects on the screen.

Some programs, notably some of the parts of (and add-ons for) A.I.R. Software's new Star Trax Millennium, and the Page Designer module in Janus 3.0, consume such large amounts of System Resources that you have to run the programs by themselves (without any other programs running at the same time on your computer) or your computer might crash.

While this is annoying, the good news is that the new Windows XP that is due out in October 2001 will no longer have a finite pool of System Resource memory, so these problems will disappear soon.

Janus has a strong emphasis on Medieval astrology, Uranian astrology, and Horary astrology, and enhanced features for each of these. For example, Janus incorporates several newly introduced Medieval techniques from Robert Zoller.

Janus offers comprehensive interpretive reports. Unlike most other powerful calculation programs -- which provide shorter interpretations -- Janus has lengthy interpretations for natal charts and dynamic events (transits, progressions, etc.) and for parans and planets on angles in astrolocality charts. All of these are editable, and you can also create your own synastry report.

Janus has grown into a full-featured professional astrology program, with fine ease of use, special strengths, and much to please both beginning and professional astrologers.

Upgrades in the Works

Matrix Software is hard at work on a number of new report writers, including a Lunar Return report, the Jim Lewis Astro*Carto*Graphy report, a biorhythm report, and more.

Their Win*Star Express has become very popular, and they're planning to create a number of inexpensive add-in modules to it, so that you can select just the functions you want, and keep your software simpler.

Neat Stuff

Most astrologers are not adept at using computers, and so they forget an all-important fact: computers (and all of their parts) crash.

When a computer crashes, or more specifically when a hard drive dies or gets damaged (by a power outage, sharp bump, infection with a virus, etc.), you can lose all of your files.

And that includes not only all of your astrology software, but all of the charts that you have painstakingly entered into your computer.

The only real protection is to have a backup (extra copy) of your essential files.

You can use floppy disks or Zip disks to store your essential files, but these methods are slow, get expensive, and you end up having to shuffle through and store a lot of disks, without even backing up your programs or system setup. (Also, neither is that reliable.)

Today's hard drives are giant, and the programs themselves are very large, both much too big to use removable disks for backups.

Instead, the way that has become the method of choice is to install in your computer a second -- removable -- hard drive of the same size as your internal one. You then use a docking port to put this hard drive into your computer (turn the power off first!) every time you want to backup the entire internal hard drive. And then remove it (power off first!) and store it in a safe place between backups.

No other method is faster, cheaper, or better than this at enabling you to restore your system completely at any time.

You'll also need specialized backup/restore software to make this method work. I've explored what programs work best, and Drive Image 3.0 from PowerQuest is the best by far. It makes complete copies of your hard drive in minutes, and verifies the integrity of the process at every step. [Addendum: unless you are using Windows 2000 or NT, the earlier version 3.0 is much easier to use than the newer 4.0 version, so order version 3.0.]

It also allows you to restore your system from the backup drive quickly and easily.

Neat Stuff 2: The best way to keep your computer working

Did you know that 12% of people have viruses on their computers and spread them unknowingly via their emails?

And that a virus can destroy your Inbox of email, your installed software, and your files?

I've encountered many destructive virus-laden emails, and now swear by Norton AntiVirus 2001. This latest version is incredibly effective at countering such vicious viruses as the Kak Worm (which destroyed my Inbox emails twice!) and all of the new script (self executing) email viruses.

Since every time you install or remove a program, your system may be left with "loose ends" (e.g. invalid registry entries) that begin to pile up, it is worthwhile to get the whole Norton SystemWorks 2001, which includes Norton AntiVirus 2001, as well as their excellent WinDoctor program.

I encourage you to run WinDoctor about once a month. It will find and fix errors in your Windows computer very easily and effectively.

Copy Protection, Bugs, and other Issues

Comparing Software.

One of my pet peeves is towards the companies that present tables comparing their program -- invariably favorably -- with other software.

There are many problems with comparison tables:

1. The companies always get it wrong. They don't bother to take the time to really research each competitor's product, and so often omit features in the other programs that are there.

2. They deliberately omit all of the strengths of the other programs that are missing in theirs.

3. A table never addresses the intangible yet vitally important factors like look-and-feel, ease of learning, ease of use, and enjoyability of each program.

4. Often, the tables focus on completely trivial or obscure features and ignore core functional ones.

In other words, tables are exercises in showing your product in the best light, at the expense of the truth.

One company just released such a comparison table, but had the integrity to remove it from their website after hearing my feedback. Bravo! It's wonderful that the prevailing atmosphere among astrology software companies today is one of cooperation and mutual respect.

Important Notes

Learning astrology via software.

Lately, I have been often asked which astrology software program is best for learning astrology. You can learn astrology via software, by reading the printouts from report writers (i.e. astrology programs that generate interpretive reports for natal charts, transits, compatibility, relocation, etc.), looking through the software's encyclopedias and glossaries, and even taking astrology lessons via software.

And for this purpose, I usually recommend the Kepler program, which is filled with articles, a full set of astrology lessons, a fine glossary, several types of interpretations, and even a spoken delineation of any birth chart.

Nevertheless, I also strongly recommend using books too, for learning to read horoscopes. There is a reading list on this website of the best books in astrology that you can access by clicking here.

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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Telling others about our website.

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Alerting us to new programs and astrological resources,

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and by purchasing your astrological software through this site.

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Copyright © 2001 Hank Friedman