Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 86 / JULY 1987 / PAGE 34


Kathy Yakal

Requirements: Commodore 64 (reviewed here), 128, or IBM-PC or compatible (256K recommended but not required on MS-DOS machines).

Throw away your card file. Toss out that old calculator you bought in 1975 when the price came down to $5.95. Stop trying to decide which size paper you're going to write a memo on, and end the frustration of having to line up each mailing label when you're typing a bunch of them.

You can replace all these things with a single cartridge that does them all, and more: Partner, from Timeworks. Partner is one example of a genre of productivity software that offers several desktop accessories like a notepad, appointment calendar, calculator, and address/phone file in an invisible program that runs concurrently with other programs; that is, it remains in memory while you're using your word processor or sweating out cels in a spreadsheet or landing in San Francisco in Flight Simulator, and it pops up ready for use at the touch of a cartridge button.

Installing Partner, depending on which version you're using, involves little more than plugging it into an expansion port. Although you may not need to use all of its functions immediately, it's a good idea to run through the manual to make sure you know how to use all of them, saving time later.

Partner offers nine functions:

Appointment Calendar: Partner contains graphic calendar displays for every month from January 1987 through December 2099; by pressing a few function keys, you can enter, edit, and save information for any day in three areas—Key Tasks, a To Do list, and Appointments. Though the first two headings might seem to duplicate each other, they actually point out a very important time-management tool: separating goals from objectives. In the midst of doing all of the little tasks that make up your day, it's wise to keep the larger picture in mind.

If there are tasks you haven't completed when 5:00 rolls around, Partner lets you transfer them to the next day. The snafu here is that it is erases any items you've already entered for that next day. Another minor gripe in this area: When you're printing out a week or month's worth of days, the skeleton format (including headings and numbers) is printed for every day, whether or not you've entered anything there, wasting space and printer paper.

Memo Pad: Using simple text-editing commands, you can dash off memos without losing your current program. The Typewriter feature here will print out one line at a time as you hit the return key if you like; you can also print out the whole thing when it's done.

Address List: Using the same text-editing features from Memo Pad, this section is an electronic card file for storing, alphabetizing, displaying, and printing names, addresses, and telephone numbers. You can also print mailing labels within this section. This may involve playing around with the margin settings to zero in on the right spacing.

Phone List: This is an abbreviated version of the Address List. Since it contains autodialing capabilities, it's especially helpful for telecommunications applications. You can store phone numbers for often-called online services and let the program dial for you.

Calculator: When the boss drops a paycheck on your desk, you can break into this area and do a quick calculation of your checkbook balance. The program displays a graphic representation of a calculator with its standard functions, and includes a printout option.

Print Screen: Lets you print one screen from the program you're running, with the exception of graphics displays.

SwiftDOS: This section offers access to a variety of housekeeping commands for your disk operating system, like formatting, cleaning, and erasing.

SwiftLock: Data protection schemes like this insure that no one can peek at your work when you walk away from your desk to get coffee. Enter this section before leaving your terminal, and it freezes all active data until you enter your secret code.

Setup: Though it's listed last, this is probably the first area you'll want to dive into. It asks eight questions about your hardware configuration, letting you set addresses and margin spacing.

Partner also offers Swiftload, a fast-loading, feature.

Partner is an excellent addition to any software library. It offers an uncomplicated command structure and clear, simple documentation. It provides quick, easy access to features often used during the business day; any of the program's functions is only a keypress away, and a display of the purpose of each function key runs along the bottom of the screen in each section. And Partner doesn't take up space with a lot of extras that often aren't necessary.

But the main advantage here lies in the fact that it runs concurrently with whatever software you're using: no need to save a document, power down, reboot, and so on. It's not meant to be used as a full word processor or data­base manager. It's an accessory—a partner, as its name states—and a good one.



444 Lake Lake Cook Rd.

Deerfield, 1L 60015

$59.95 Commodore 64 and 7BM-PC/

PC-compatible versions

$69.95 Commodore 128 version