The coolest month. (new desktop publishing and computer art products) (Art Works) (Column)
by Robert Bixby
"Art Works" scuttles across the floors of sunless seas this month in search of hidden treasure.
English majors will remember that hipster T.S. Eliot (in his most ambitious poem, "The Waistband") pronounced April the coolest month, and in that spirit, this slightly fragmented column will attempt to cover some ot the coolest things happening (without forcing its author to create any particular thread of meaning where none now exists).
Not only can Mastersoft's Word for Word now translate virtually any application's files into virtually any other application's format, but it can also translate graphics within those files into a graphics format friendly with the file format into which the file is being converted. And if you think that sentence was hard to read, you should have seen the effort it took to write it. If you regularly (or even occasionally) translate files from, say, WordPerfect to Word for Windows, you should take a look at Word for Word (Mastersoft, 8737 East Via de Commercio, Scottsdale, Arizona 85258; 602-948-4888).
GeoWorks has been busy selling hardware makers on its operating system. The Zoomer, maketed by Casio and Radio Shack, has GeoWorks at its heart, and Canon has licensed GeoWorks to operate a self-contained publishing engine expected to be similar in size to the dedicated word processors marketed by Smith Corona, Brother, and Canon, but with a GUI, GeoWrite, and a built-in ink-jet printer that will allow you to carry desktop publishing around with you. I don't know whether the machine will be battery powered, but if it is, we may be witnessing the predawn glow of laptop publishing.
We've seen an explosion of interest in ink-jet printers, which can now be found in laptop computers (from Canon) and fax machines (from Ricoh--check the April "Personal Productivity" column--available only in the COMPUTE area on America Online--for a review), so it shouldn't be a surprise that someone would introduce special paper to make ink-jet output particularly sharp and bright. Micro Format (830-3 Seton Court, Wheeling, Illinois 60090; 800-333-0549) has come up with paper that makes ink-jet printouts look brilliant. If you're using your ink-jet printer for desktop publishing, you can create better originals with the Micro Format paper, known as SUPER-COLOR Ink Jet Paper.
Wish list: Here's a free idea, given gladly to anyone who wants to develop it. Why not cross a plotter with a laser and come up with a nonimpact paper cutter? The bed of the cutter could be ceremic so the powerful beam wouldn't cut through it. Th eunit would have to be carefully shielded, perhaps enclosed in a cover with an interlock (like a microwave's or a CD player's) that would prevent it from operating when open. And it would have to be vented to prevent a concentration of vapors.
This machine could be used by the desktop publisher to trim the rough edges of booklets and to make die cuts. Kids could use it on paper, cloth, and leather to make crafts (with careful adult supervision). Although lasers hav emade their way into our homes via CD players, this would be the first home use of a really powerful laser.
A word of caution: If you manufacture this item, get loads of liability insurance because you knowthat some hacker somewhere will defeat the interlock and end up to cutting off his pinkie or blinding himself and he'll get a good lawyer to convince a jury that it's your fault and you'll wind up a pauper on skid row telling passersby the sad story of your wasted life. Nonetheless, entrepreneurialism is the mighty engine that drives our ecnomy.
Victor Zinn of Boca Raton, Florida, wrote to ask why GeoWrite (under GeoWorks 1.2) has trouble printing on legal-size (8-1/2- x 14-inch) paper: "Three inches of the right-hand side was transferred to a second page." This confusing tendency of GeoWrite to give legal paper short shrifts is caused by a setting in your Preferences application. To print on legal-size paper, pull down the File menu in GeoWrite and select Page Setup. From the options in the dialog box that appears, select Legal Paper. Close the dialog box, start up Preferences, and click on Printer. In the dialog box that appears, click on Defaults. In the dialog box that opens, select Legal-Size as the printer default and close all of the dialog boxes and the Preferences window. There are few things about GeoWorks that deserve to be called goofy, but I've never seen a goofies method for changing page setup. A prized COMPUTE hat goes out to Mr. Zinn for writing to us about his problem.
Have a DTP tip you'd like to share? Let me know about it by calling (900) 884-8681, extention 7010203 (sponsored by Pure Entertainment, P.O. Box 186, Hollywood, California 90078). The call costs 95 cents per minute, you must be 18 or older, and you must use a touch-tone phone. Or write t "Art Works" in care of this magazine. And if you don't have a tip, call to let me know what you're up to, what software you're using, and how I can be of help.