|★ APPLICATIONS ★ COMPTA, BOURSE, BUDGET ★ HOTSHOT|8000Plus) ★|
|Hotshot||Applications Compta, Bourse, Budget|
Organised at Last
Is it a calculator? Is it a diary? Is it a word counter? No, it's Hotshot, here to beef up LocoScript.
There is no doubt that the program used on the PCW more than any other is LocoScript. And it is also true that recent months have seen the introduction of several desktop organisers that provide all those little extra features that you need to have at hand when running any program such as a calculator, calendar, notepad and so on. Of course, these organisers all run on CP/M and none are suitable for faithful old LocoScript.
So perhaps the most surprising feature about the new Hotshot desk-top organiser is that it has not been done before. LocoScript may not be the easiest thing for programmers to add things on to, but with the massive market available it would seem well worth the effort of creating such utilities.
The idea is that while using LocoScript you may need a number of facilities - an address book, a calculator, a diary, a calendar or even a word counter. The answer is to buy a program which hangs around in the background, which can be called up at any time at the press of a couple of keys to carry out these helpful functions. When you want to go back to LocoScript the press of another key takes you back to the exact spot you had left, all achieved in moments.
What kind of utilities do you want to have at hand while writing documents? How long is a piece of string? You could presumably go on forever adding to your list of wants, so the Hotshot designers have made their choice, bearing in mind the harsh realities of programming constraints.
One of the most useful additions to LocoScript's functions is Hotshot's word counter. This will be vital for writers, while mathematicians and scientists will be more than interested in the special features of the calculator. For business use the diary or the address book and the simple mail merge facility it offers might prove the main selling point while for the really paranoid the ability to encode files so chat they cannot be read without the correct password may prove well worth the asking price.
And for poor computer journalists who have to work late into the night to meet deadlines, the clock with the alarm that bleeps and flashes up the message "It is now 4 am. Go to bed" would prove a Godsend.
Keep it simple
Bearing in mind that not all LocoScript users are keen computer buffs Hotshot has been designed to be simple to use (especially if you have a working knowledge of LocoScript) and hopefully foolproof. This starts with the process to adapt LocoScript to take the new program.
The first time you use Hotshot you must make up a new LocoScript Start of Day disc. Hotshot does this for you - when asked, put in the Hotshot, LocoScripc and blank formatted discs at the right moments. Whenever you start up with this new disc you will have Hotshot available. At present, Hotshot will only work with LocoScript v 1.2 and, if you have an 8512, LocoSpell and LocoMail - not LocoScript 2.
Hotshot loads itself into 40k of the M disc, and you can call it up at any time by simply pressing [SHIFT] and the 'screen' button (the key with the grid on it in the middle of the cursor keys). You don't need the disc in the drive again unless you want to save new addresses or notes for posterity.
Hotshot takes over the top four lines on the screen -the normal LocoScript menu area. A menu is displayed with all the function descriptions alongside the key to press to call them up — they are all found using the f-keys, sometimes with [ALT] or [EXTRA], All of Hotshot's operations are displayed on these same four lines, so your LocoScript text is visible at all times.
Herein lies the awful dilemma that all programmers of organisers have to face - how much information can be packed into how little space?
Space? No problem
For many facilities, being crammed into four lines is no problem. The clock, alarm and word counter fit in the space easily. Hotshot doesn't use the fancy graphical representation of a calculator used by some other organiser packages, aiming at a plainer faqade with more serious features. So again the space is not too much of a problem.
The compact calendar display is ingenious although it takes a bit of getting used to. You type in the month and year required and out comes a long row of numbers which are matched up with letters for the days of the week. To save space, the first digit of the numbers is displayed above the line (eg the 3 of 30 is above the 0) which does makes it difficult to read at first.
The makers proudly claim that the calendar is correct from 1592 (the introduction in England of the Gregorian Calendar) to 9999 AD. We leave it to more astute brains than ours to prove this right or wrong — at least it seems correct for 1987.
Even the address book should not provide too many problems in the restricted space. Most addresses can be shown fully in the four lines available, and if more are needed then the display can scroll to fit the information required on.
Faster than an address book
More importantly there is a good find facility which will pull out the correct address from the stored mass with a speed that should beat looking in your drawer for your faithful old address book. Each entry is written on a new Hotshot 'page', and you can use the [COPY] key to copy the page direct into a LocoScript document —for instance an address into the correct place in a letter.
Most of the defined keys used by LocoScript have the same use in Hotshot.
If you can't remember the exact name of the person you are looking for, you can scroll through the entries to find the one you want. The program automatically sorts your entries alphabetically when you leave it.
Limited space become more of a problem with the diary. This again allows you any amount amount of text to a page, although a really lengthy document would become unwieldy. Again you use the Find command to call up the correct page for any date.
For all those general things that you can't put an exact date on there is an ingenious page dated 00/00/00 for all these odds and ends. As with all the Hotshot features of this kind you can add or erase pages, although you can't erase this special page (you have to delete ail the entries in it instead).
Take a note
A feature that should be one of the most useful - the facility to take notes - is the one most hampered by the lack of space. You can write pages of any length, scrolling back and forward, and you can copy them into a document. While the small display area may be considered a flaw, remember that many popular portable computers have the same size of display.
If you keep this in mind you can use the notes section to full advantage. The Find facility comes in useful here: since each page of the notes begins with a V symbol, you can use the Find command to go to a specific page. So, if you had a load of interesting details about 8000 Plus, on a page especially about chat esteemed organ, you can do a Find on "« 8000 Plus" which will go straight to that page without ploughing through every reference.
The word counter is of course something close to the heart of everybody who needs to write material to a fixed length. This one has the advantage that if you split your long documents up into several shorter files (as you should in LocoScript) you can count them sequentially and keep track of the total with a ‘Total Words" counter.
Unfortunately you have to place the cursor on the name of the file you want counted before you enter Hotshot, so counting a number of files can be a nuisance as you have to dodpe in and out. Hotshot gets though a file ac about 100 words a second.
The last function, the ability to encode any LocoScript file, is perhaps a bit more difficult to appreciate. Most writers are struggling to get cheir work read, not trying to stop people reading it. You c'" specify a password for any file on the disc, and to be able to print or edit that file you need to unlock it with the same password — handy for Loco-Script-using spies.
The password can be up to 32 characters and until the file is decoded using exactly the same characters (even to upper and lower case) you can't even read the file, and would have to be a really enthusiastic hacker the get into it again, If you want to use this feature it would certainly seem to be worthwhile choosing a codeword you will remember.