Now that I'm stocking up with M&M's and Raisinettes (er, for the kids at Halloween, of course), I can see it's also time to look over the tricks and treats that have been piling up in my software box.
Software Bridge for Macintosh: Less than a year ago I described various ways to swap files between MS-DOS machines and Macintoshes. As I explained, two kinds of conversions needed to take place, one between the machines and another between the word processing programs used. For instance, you might have a WordPerfect 5.1 file on your PC that you wanted to place on the Mac and edit with Microsoft Word.
Of the half-dozen ways I described, they've all been supplanted in terms of ease by Software Bridge for the Macintosh (Systems Compatibility Corp., 401 N. Wabash, Suite 600, Chicago, Ill. 60611;  329-0700). Software Bridge supercharges the Apple File Exchange utility on the Mac.
When you install Software Bridge, you choose whatever possible combinations of "translations" you might want. For instance, you might convert MacWrite files to Word or WordPerfect files on the Mac. Or you might want to convert from (or to) 24 different PC word processors, such as MultiMate, WordStar, NotaBene, Volkswriter or XyWrite.
So how easy is it moving files? Say you need to move a few files from PC to Mac. First put your PC files on a 3 1/2 -inch disk. (If you don't have a 3 1/2 -inch drive, such a drive is now quite inexpensive. MicroSolution's MegaMate is a great way to add one. Depending on what version of MegaMate you buy, it retails for between $295 and $395. Call  756-3411 for more information.)
Then bring up Apple File Exchange on the Mac, which now has been enhanced by Software Bridge. Put in your 3 1/2 -inch PC disk into the Mac. The Mac screen displays the file names on the Mac and on your PC disk. Highlight the files you want to move from the PC disk. With the Mac mouse, click on the word "translate." In moments your files are converted from PC to Mac and word processor to word processor.
All in all, Software Bridge on the Mac is a fabulous and simple-to-use program. It retails for $129.
Grammatik IV, government edition: As you saw our tired representatives struggle ineffectively with the budget deficit, you might have been reminded how slow the wheels of government turn. And if you read some of the obfuscatory literature your politicians send, well, you might consider the government just a brick wall.
But why always hammer against the government? At least one of its agencies, the Government Printing Office, struggles for clarity with its "GPO Style Manual," which offers "official" style rules for those writing for the government.
For those of you with a computer, Reference Software (330 Townsend Ave., Suite 123, San Francisco, Calif. 94107;  541-0222) has come out with Grammatik IV, Government Edition, which incorporates guidelines from the GPO and other agencies. In this version, the help screens make reference to government writing sources. Government-preferred spellings are also included. The edition also comes with the proofreading styles of its normal edition: technical, business, informal, general, fiction and custom. For DOS with or without Windows and Macintosh, $99; for UNIX, $295.
Ko-Pilot: "Computer friendly" is a buzz phrase on the outs. Even so, every now and then I run across a product that truly makes things easier. Ko-Pilot is for people who are intimidated by HTC computers but have to use one anyway -- and with WordPerfect, specifically. This program latches itself to WordPerfect, giving users extra help.
I gave it to an acquaintance who was still shaking at the knees when she saw how big her WordPerfect 5.1 manual was. She said Ko-Pilot was very helpful. $89.95. (Insight Resource, 175 Prospect Ave., Tarrytown, N.Y. 10591;  332-1589.)