SoftStar News

September 2001

The Bridge of Skies

I am happy to announce that in the latest issue of The Mountain Astrologer (October/November 2001), I have published my first non-software astrology article.

This article -- called Bridge of Skies -- shows you how to use Vedic insights and techniques in your Western chart readings. Years of learning has gone into the article, and I hope you enjoy it.

Upgrades in the Works

There are two major upgrades to Vedic astrological software soon to be released. Shri Jyoti Star version 4.0 will be a major upgrade, and include the ability to attach up to three pages of notes to each chart and to search all of the notes for specific words and phrases. This upgrade will include many more features, including Shri Pati Padhati enhancements.

The second major update is Goravani Jyotish version 3.0. Das Goravani has promised that this major update will be "awesome". I look forward to seeing it.

Note: If you have purchased Parashara's Light 2000, the latest update (the last several have been labeled PL 2000 version II) significantly fixes many longstanding bugs and is worth getting.

Neat Stuff: Windows XP

Lest you think that I am one of those computer users who rushes to get the latest operating system, you should know that I resisted going from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 for so long that by the time I was ready, Windows 98 had been released! That stated, I will upgrade to Windows XP as soon as I can.

Why? Because, for the first time, program crashes due to the depletion of system resources will be eliminated. Many astrology programs, most notably parts of Millennium Star Trax & of Janus, use giant blocks of system resources and cannot be safely run while other programs are running without danger of crashing. In some programs, you can't even open too many modules of the program itself without running into difficulties.

Windows XP not only solves this problem, but also many other causes of Windows crashes. I look forward to the day when I can run all of the programs that I want to at the same time in a stable environment.

Neat Stuff 2: Free Printer Switcher

Since I use two printers, one laser for text and an inkjet for color charts and tables, I have to switch between them frequently. I tried using a printer switch box, but it was clumsy and erratic and I still had to change the Windows default printer each time.

Then I realized that I could purchase an inexpensive PCI card to create a second printer port (or you could use USB), so all I had to find was an easy way to switch printers. I tested several utilities until I finally found one that is both free and works very well.

WPrinter Lite 2.5 places an icon into your system tray (on the lower right of your screen) and all you have to do to switch printers is to right-click on the icon with your mouse and then choose the printer you want to switch to. This is an excellent utility. To get it, Click Here

Copy Protection, Bugs, and other Issues

Danger: Shakeout Ahead

We are at an unusual place in the evolution of astrological software. The field has matured so much. In the old days, most people couldn't write astrology software because they didn't have the time or energy to translate the published planetary orbital data in to computer code.

Now everyone has access to ultra-precise algorithms for calculating planetary positions, can find free astrology fonts, and get hooks for the ACS atlas (for automatic time and place coordinate entries), and can create their own accurate astrology programs.

The result is that there are more and more fine programs out there, and only a relatively small audience to support them.

Many years ago, PC Magazine reviewed 26 different word processing programs. Each had their own capabilities and style, and I naively thought that the diversity would continue and that there would always be a wide range of choices of word processors. Today there are three to choose from. One owns 80-90% of the market -- MicroSoft Word -- and the other two dividing up the remaining share.

I fear that with the intense competition and the duplication of features in many programs, that astrology software companies will find themselves with less and less income and that several will have to, in the end, close their doors. Already, there are a few programs (e.g. AstroWin, AsterPro, etc.) that were once commercial products and can now be downloaded for free via the internet.

What can we astrologers do? Continue to support the companies whose products we do like, make sure that we help them survive by purchasing updates when they are released (and their other programs), and not give others free copies of their software.

Most astrology software users don't realize the phenomenal effort and "labor of love" it takes to create and maintain astrology software. We are incredibly blessed to have so many people creating such wonderful programs.

Important Notes

Old atlases.

I continue to be amazed at the naivete of astrology software users re: their programs accuracy and usability. If you are using a program that is several years old, and have not updated your electronic atlas in the past three years, then many of your charts, especially those done for children born recently in Europe or South America, will be incorrect.

While Daylight and standard time zone changes in the U.S. alter less frequently, even here there have been some changes over recent years. The only way to get accurate charts is to use software that has a recent version of an electronic atlas.

The two that I trust most completely are the atlas in Kepler (now at version 4.7 -- every version automatically includes atlas updates) and the ACS PC Atlas for Windows version 2.0.

In a future issue, I will test the various software atlases and let you know which ones pass muster.

Important Notes #2

Many foreign versions of Windows -- e.g. Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and Korean --use dual byte (aka double byte) fonts. If you use one of these versions of Windows, you will not be able to run many astrology programs, including Solar Fire 5. Before purchasing any astrology software, be sure to find out from the manufacturer if you can run it under dual byte Windows.

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.

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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Copyright © 2001 Hank Friedman