Five alive. (five useful utilities for Windows) (Evaluation)
by Clifton Karns
There are five Windows utilities that I couldn't live without. I use three of these constantly, so they're all but invisible to me. I use one of the others just a few times a week, and the last one I only use a few times a year. Buy they're all essential to my productivity and well-being.
The first of these must-haves is Stacker AT/16 (Stac Electronics, 5993 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, California 92008; 800-522-7822; $249.00). Stacker AT/16 is a 16-bit coprocessor card and software driver that uses on-the-fly compression and decompression to effectively double the size of your hard disk. It's turned my 110MB disk into a 220MB jumbo and made it easy for me to live with the mega sizes of most Windows programs. And with the 16-bit coprocessor version of the product, there's no performance degradation. Stacker is completely transparent, and it works with all my Norton and PC Tools disk utilities. Stacker's something of a miracle.
Next on my list is ATM, the Adobe Type Manager (Adobe Systems, 1585 Charleston Road, P.O. Box 7900, Mountain View, California 94039; 415-961-4400; $99.00). As the name suggests, ATM is a type manager. It uses PostScript fonts and prints in any point size for any font I have. And it gives me real WYSIWYG onscreen display for these fonts. Version 2.0 of this outstanding program uses 32-bit access in 386-enhanced mode, and it's fast. A type manager is essential if you do anything beyond the simplest document formatting. It's true that Windows 3.1 comes with its own font manager, TrueType, but ATM is for PostScript fonts, and I, like many others, already have a large investment in PostScript. Also, PostScript is what service bureaus use. ATM has turned my inexpensive HP LaserJet into a printer that offers most of the benefits of a PostScript printer.
The last of the three all-but-invisible products I use is Software Workshop's Icon Paks (Software Workshop, 75 South Mountain Way, Orem, Utah 84058; 800-762-9550; Icon Pak I, $39.95; Icon Pak II, $99.95; both, $135.95). These two packages contain beautiful, handcrafted icons for almost every imaginable application. They're naturals for DOS apps, and with an editor that can edit icons inside EXEs and DLLs (such as the same company's Icon Creator), you can actually replace a Windows application's original icon with one that you like better from an Icon Pak. Most of the DOS apps on my desktop are represented with Software Workshop icons. If you get in the mood to redecorate your desktop, these two icon collections are the place to start.
The essential utility that I only use a few times a week is WinFax Pro (Delrina, 6830 Via del Oro, Suite 240, San Jose, California 95119; 800-268-6082; 119.00). This program is a special Windows printer driver that, combined with a supported fax modem, lets you send a fax by simply printing from any Windows app. It's a snap to use, and since the faxes don't have to be scanned before they're sent, the output is the highest quality you can get with a fax.
WinFax Pro also receives faxes (with boards that support this option), and it offers scads of neat features including a phone book, scheduled calling, send and receive logs, and page preview. The latest version of the program supports a very large number of fax modems. If you've used DOS fax programs, you'll be amazed at just how easy it really can be. I don't fax from my PC every day, but when I do, I use WinFax Pro.
The last utility I can't live without is one that I don't use very often, but when I need it, it's a superb performer. I'm talking about ABC FlowCharter (Micrografx, 1303 Arapaho, Richardson, Texas 75081; 800-733-3729; $295.00). This program makes it a snap to design all kinds of flow charts, organizational charts, and so on. It supports all your fonts (it works perfectly with ATM), and it has automatic drop shadows, intelligent connections between flow-charting objects, page preview, and lots of other functions that make designing charts quick and easy. You can even fax your flowcharts directly from ABC FlowCharter with WinFax Pro. And the results are stunning. You can use conventional drawing programs to create a flow chart, but it can be a frustrating experience. Don't try it. Get ABC FlowCharter and have some fun. Your charts will get some respect, and they'll look so good that people might even read them.