SoftStar News

November 2001

Upgrades in the Works

Kepler version 5.0 is about to be released in early December. This new version will have beautiful "art wheels", i.e. birth charts with lovely backgrounds, an improved TimeLine that shows the exact dates of events, Vedic Varga charts, shad bala, and gochara; the 18,000+ famous charts are now nicely categorized so you can access the category of charts desired for chart analysis or research, asteroid ephemeris printing, transiting and progressed declinations in a graphic ephemeris, paran listings, fixed star listing expanded to over 8,000 objects, Sabian Symbol interpretations, and more.

Cosmic Patterns continues to have the best upgrade policies of any company. All of the reports that you own from Cosmic Patterns are automatically updated for free each time you purchase a new Kepler update. Even better, the Kepler internal electronic atlas, which automatically inserts the correct coordinates and time zone of every city you enter, is revised and improved in every new Kepler version. (Making Kepler the program with the most accurate time-change atlas in the World.)

I'm also hearing whispers, from Matrix Software, about a whole new modular Win*Star. Apparently, big changes will be taking place with new software releases in the coming year.

New Review of Millennium

Here's the link to my full review of Millennium from The Mountain Astrologer's Mercury Direct insert. Learn all about A.I.R. Software's latest offering by clicking here

Important note: Since writing this review, Millennium has been further enhanced. It now includes the full A.C.S. PC Atlas including coordinates and time zones for over 250,000 cities throughout the U.S. and the World.

Copy Protection, Bugs, and other Issues

By now, you will have heard about the new version of MicroSoft Windows, called XP. I will be reviewing XP in a future issue of The Mountain Astrologer, because it is such a significant update that it will affect the astrological community and the future of astrology software.

As you might have read, I'm excited about XP because it will enable me, and anyone who has purchased a powerful-enough (to run XP) computer since 1998, to have more astrology programs running at the same time, without crashing.

However, MicroSoft has chosen an unfortunate method of preventing piracy called Windows Product Activation (WPA) to keep people from installing XP on more than one computer.

Up to now, when you purchased Windows you could install it on both your desktop and laptop computer. WPA prevents this, by requiring that you email to MicroSoft a code once you've installed XP on your computer. This code is generated by looking at the configuration of your computer (e.g. the serial number of your hard drive, type of motherboard, video card, etc.). Windows XP will stop working if you change your hard drive or make other major changes, or try to install XP on another computer.

As a result, every time you make significant changes to your PC, you'll have to re-send a code to MicroSoft to be re-authorized to use the software you already purchased!

Needless to say, WPA only hurts "the little guys", as software pirates have already developed workarounds enabling them to install XP on many systems.

My Role as "Hall Monitor"


I was recently talking to the creator of AstroDatabank, and he recounted a conversation he had with another astrology software developer. They both agreed that most astrologers aren't aware of the powerful roles I play in the astrology software industry.

As "Hall Monitor", to use his words, I frequently run new programs and updates through their paces, finding bugs, design flaws, and areas where improvement or clarification is needed. I also help most companies design their products, because I can see their unique features and where to build upon them, and also where the software is seriously deficient.

For example, I just reviewed two programs, Janus version 3.0 and AstrolDeluxe version 6.0 for The Mountain Astrologer's Mercury Direct section. In the process of testing and exploring both programs, I discovered important areas that needed addressing. In Janus, the planetary algorithms used were less accurate for ancient dates than they should have been. The authors of Janus responded, and within a month or two will be offering a free update containing more accurate calculations for ancient dates.

The author of AstrolDeluxe was even more responsive, essentially changing the program so much that I ended up reviewing version 6.0 instead of version 5.0. He added the full ACS PC Atlas (for auto-lookup of 250,000 cities instead of the previous 8,000), a complete natal interpretation report, a wonderful new graphical bi-wheel, unlimited space for entering (and searching) notes for each chart, Astro*Carto*Graphy maps, and more.

I love the openness of most astrology software creators. They encourage my feedback, fix the bugs I report, and create better programs as a result. We all win!

Important Notes

I recently received a new major astrology program from a company (to remain nameless). The software had several powerful and innovative features, but like many new programs from companies not familiar with what is already available, it had many bugs, and even entering a birth chart was labored.

To enter the astrology software market at this point requires many features to already be in place. For example, all of the mainstream programs that I have reviewed priced at $169 or higher have full electronic atlases built-in, so that users don't have to look up any coordinates or time changes. They also are relatively easy to use.

So if you are interested in creating the next great astrology program, let me preview it and I can tell you what it needs to survive in today's incredibly competitive and feature-rich astrology software market.




Discounts on Software

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 Express 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