Personal Assistant sets out to provide you with a suite of useful business programs: o word processor, database, desk diary, invoice processor, label printer and bank account manager. It tries to do this under CP/M Plus on the CPC 6128 or PCW 8256. Unfortunately, for several reasons, it falls short of the mark.
This is the first and main reason the package doesn t really succeed. The A5 booklet covers all six applications in 50 pages, which is not really enough. as some sections are skimped.
The manual appears not to have been proof read at all. Spelling and printing errors abound and the descriptions of prompts and screen displays often bear little resemblance to the real thing. For instance, the section on Datamate (the database) describes how you finish defining a field on a record by pressing the HALF key (the key next to the break key)'. The 6128 has neither a 1/2 nor a break key, and Joyce keeps her 1 /2 key next to her SHIFT (modest thing).
This program prepares invoices and statements to send to your customers. As you enter the quantity and price of each item on an invoice, Billmate works out the VAT amount and the running total. When you've finished entering data, which you can't edit within the æAddinvoice' routine, you caii store the invoice on disc.
You can print invoices individually or as a batch. The program will also summarise the invoices sent out between two specified dates.
Billmate asks for the current date before you start to use the program. Personal Assistant seems to have trouble with dates. The review programs treat February as an error (though this has since been fixed) and can't decide on the correct date format. Some of them like DD/MM/YY, while others will only accept MM/DD/YY. Fair enough, then, consult the manual to find out which is needed for Billmate - 'Enter the correct date in the form:-00/00/00'. Ah.
This program is a convenient way of storing your personal bank account (or company account, if the company's small). It allows you to enter each amount spent and eamt and will keep a current balance for you.
Bankmate seems to work pretty well, but as with any program of this type, it's only as useful as you are diligent in keeping it up to date.
If you use a desk diary to make a note of your appointments, then you may find Appomtmate a helpful alternative. It stores details of up to 930(!) appointments and can display the data in several ways.
You can look at any given appointment, and also check a particular time to see if you're free. You can display all your appointments on a given day or between any two dates. All very useful you might think, and so it is - except for one oddity.
Each appointment entered into Appointmate has to include the birthdate of the visitor! You can't press to bypass the offending field but have to enter a valid date (too bad if he/she was bom in February!). How many times do you know the birthdate of a visitor. Why should you want to? Appointmate doesn't actually use the information, but won't continue without it.
Oh, you have to enter the date here as well. Which format? The manual says æin the form:- '04/04/85'.
This is the database program, and is quite sophisticated. A record is designed by typing field names directly onto a screen 'card', and the length of each field is defined by the number of spaces after its name. You can store about 600 records of300 characters on a single disc side.
Once you've defined your record and entered data onto xt, you can find any record on the file using one of three search routines. Datamate can match on any or ALL fields in a search. This means you could, for instance, search a name and address file for all people called Smith who live in Manchester and are not on the phone. The first field on each record is assumed to be a ækey' field, and searching by this field is faster than by any of the others.
You can also sort the records by any field and make calculations between them. You could have a product file with a VAT exclusive price in one field, the VAT rate in another, and the calculated total in a third. Totals can also be carried from one
record to another.
Datamate can print out single records, which may be more than one screenful, or the whole file, via extra æformats'which can be defined and stored separately. This technique allows all kinds of lists and reports to be produced from your files. You can also merge Wordmate text with your datafile to print forms or circulars. Default printer settings are for a Tatung TP100 printer (a what?).
This is a fairly basic program to handle mailing lists. You can enter, view, search, sort, and print lists of names and addresses, or sets of labels.
Personal Assistant's Word Processor is not up to the standard of Wordstar, nor Tasword. It is quite sufficient for typing letters, but not really up to long reports, written quotations or magazine articles.
Basic formatting is provided by wordwrap and right-hand justification, although the manual seems unsure about what it's offering; 'Wordwrap' is a special function which prevents words that are too long to fit on the line to be 'Wrapped'to the next line automatically ?).
Deletion of text is fast and easy, but insertion follows the Tasword technique of splitting the line, inserting text and then reformatting.
Blocks of text may be defined, and then moved, copied or deleted in one operation. Text may be searched for given words, and replaced by others if required. Margins can be set and the text broken into pages at any point, or automatically after a set number oflines.
Wordmate doesn't support repeated headers or footers, page numbering or double spacing, but can be made to use some printer effects, such as emphasised or condensed print.
It's only fair to mention that FMP have released a modified version of Personal Assistant in the month since they sent this copy for review. They claim to have made æminor adjustments'. There wasn't time to check this new version, but some of the problems found in this copy, which was not a pre-release version, may have been removed.
AMSTRAD ACTION #7
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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.