Compute and PowerVision. (Column)
by Troy Tucker
A little more than a year ago, we entered into an agreement with GEnie and America Online to provide you with an electronic version of COMPUTE magazine. This project has provided us with a wealth of information and experience. We tested the waters, and now we're ready to apply what we've learned to a new online service--PowerVision.
PowerVision is different from anything you've ever logged on to. PowerVision breaks the old text-based barrier by fusing the latest in communications technology with beautiful VGA graphics. After just one look, you will see online services in a whole new light. All the usual features, such as electronic mail and chat, can be found on PowerVision. The difference is that each has been graphically enhanced. As you open the letter for reading, a VGA photo pops up on your screen.
This graphical enhancement doesn't slow the service to a snail's pace. State-of-the-art compression techniques and smart terminal software move at an impressive rate. The video download process takes about 10 seconds at 9600 bps (or about 30 seconds at 2400 bps).
Getting around in PowerVision is easy. Each online area is accessed by clicking on buttons or by pressing designated keys. Almost every screen is unique because the information providers design their own screens, buttons, icons, logos, and photos. Besides digitized photos, vector graphics can also be transmitted. This type of graphic is designed with special software, then compiled into a format that can be transmitted from the host computer. When photos and vector graphics are combined with bitmapped fonts and 3-D buttons, you get an online service that packs quite a visual punch.
The cost of PowerVision is very reasonable. The basic service fee is $18.95 per month with a connect charge of $.09 per minute. You get two hours of free connect time every month, and there is no additional charge for 9600-bps use. Many services are provided at no extra charge: shareware library access, electronic mail (up to 900 letters per month), discount shopping, discount travel, and personal ads. [TABULAR DATA OMITTED]
If you make a cost comparison between PowerVision, Prodigy, and CompuServe, you'll find that it's cheaper to use PowerVision. Take a look at the table to see how they stack up.
As you can see, the additional features offered by PowerVision don't increase the basic cost. And, besides getting a better price, you get to enjoy $20 in free grocery coupons each month, free 9600-bps access, personals with parameter searching, electronic mail with photos, real-estate listings with photos, shareware, chat, and much more.
By the time you read this, COMPUTE will already be on PowerVision, and Omni magazine will soon follow. If you're interested in signing up for PowerVision, the basic software price is $79.95, which includes the price of a subscription to COMPUTE, Omni, Longevity, Four Wheeler, or any other General Media publication. The COMPUTE area is found under Premium Services and can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate button. The initial COMPUTE screen details which areas are free and which charge a premium. In general, the premium will be around $.20 per minute. You will not be charged a special rate for access to COMPUTE's software library. All file descriptions will include the unit cost for each download. Whether you download at 2400 or 9600 baud, the cost remains the same.
Everyone who signs up for PowerVision through COMPUTE can take advantage of a special offer from U.S. Robotics, a 9600-bps V.32bis fax/modem for only $279 (the external unit costs $299). For more information on the new COMPUTE/NET and PowerVision, circle number 102 on the Reader Service Card or write us at COMPUTE/NET, 324 West Wendover Avenue, Suite 200, Department PV, Greensboro, NC 27408. For faster action, you can complete the coupon on the COMPUTE/NET-PowerVision ad appearing in this issue. son (one at home, one at the office), Tiny-Host will solve one of your most common problems: leaving important files on the wrong system. Programmer Bruce Krobusek often found himself doing that, so he decided to create TinyHost.
The program turns a computer into a miniature bulletin board system where you can dial in, view directories, and upload and download files. The program also includes operator chat, DOS shell capability, and message capability--and that's just the beginning.
TinyHost has most of the features of a full-blown BBS but not all the bells and whistles, the overhead, and the learning curve. It includes log-in and security provisions to protect your data and a ring-back option that makes the system easy to use on your regular voice line.
TinyHost supports up to 25 users and provides 11 security levels, making it practical to use as a small company BBS as well as a personal BBS. The shareware registration fee for TinyHost is $25.
Now you can put the best face on your DOS screens with Colors, an easy-to-use color-setting program. No more cryptic ANSI strings to remember. No trying to guess which color. With Colors, just tell it what colors you want.
For example, typing colors blu on bla gives you blue text on a black background, while typing colors red on whi gives you red type on a white background. Best of all, typing colors nor takes you right back to normal white on black when you've finished experimenting.
Aran Spence, who wrote the program and offers it as freeware, says he developed the utility after getting used to a similar feature that is part of the 4DOS operating system.
Thieves and Kings
Lovers of the Windows Solitaire game take note: Thieves and Kings brings two more solitaire games to your desktop, and both are highly addictive.
In Kings Corners, you try to fill in a 16-card grid with kings in the corners, queens on the sides, and jacks on the top and bottom. It's not as easy as it sounds.
The second game, 40 Thieves, is based on the solitaire standard known as Golf. Programmer Paul DeWolf has 2added a few twists to this version, though.
The deck includes wild cards that help prolong play, but each time you clear the table, one wild card is removed from the deck.
Also, 40 Thieves includes a two-player option, making the game great for family fun. Decide how many games you'll play, and the computer keeps running totals for each player. One word of warning: It's incredibly difficult to put this game away. I've been testing 40 Thieves for about three weeks, and my office mates think it's time I got on with my work.
This two-game shareware combination requires a $20 registration fee.
Many of the programs included on the PC Disk are shareware and are offered to you for your evaluation. When you find a shareware program that meets your needs and you intend to continue using the program, be sure to register it with the author.
If you are a shareware author and would like to submit your work for the PC Disk, you can send it directly to Tony Roberts at P.O. Box 10134, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404-0134. Due to the limited disk space available, your whole package should fit into an archive of no more than 100k. Please include a documentation file.