Three developments that make life easier


April 20, 1992|By LESTER A. PICKER

Some weeks ago, I reviewed Windows software that I felt would help non-profit organizations -- columns that generated a good number of comments from readers. Now, three new developments in the Windows environment are worthy of a quick update.

"What's the big deal with Windows software?," one reader asked me. "They claim it's so easy to use and it saves time. Oh yeah? So how come you can literally watch your hair grow while you wait for it to print?"

Good point, I had to admit.

One of the more frustrating things about Windows 3.0 is the wait time for printing documents, especially ones that incorporate tables or other graphic elements. For one client project, a three-page illustrated document took 10 minutes for each page to print!

That was then and this is now.

For the past few weeks I have been using an incredible piece of hardware and software from LaserMaster Corporation (800-365-4646) called WinJet 800. For non-profits that are doing their own desktop publishing or are printing complex documents of any type under Windows, LaserMaster has developed a winner with Winjet.

Winjet turns an ordinary Hewlett-Packard Laserjet into a faster-than-a-speeding-bullet superprinter. Remember that 10-minutes-per-page document I mentioned? After installing Winjet, each page came out of the printer in under 25 seconds.

In addition, Winjet turns an HP Laserjet into a complete PostScript printer, giving the small or mid-sized non-profit the ability to handle complex brochures, newsletters, funding proposals, and other detailed documents. This means the ability to print materials at 800 dots per inch, as opposed to the LaserJet's paltry 300. The more dots per inch, the crisper the printing appears to the eye.

While operating under PostScript, the Winjet quickly returns control of the computer back to you, while spooling the job in the background. This feature alone will keep you more productive, since you won't have to take 30-minute breaks to wait for a fancy document to print.

The Winjet card is easy as pie to install, the instructions clear and the tech support people very patient and helpful. I was up and running in minutes. A small software glitch in one of my existing start-up files was completely resolved by LaserMaster's tech support department.

The Winjet even comes with more than 50 fonts. Better yet, the installation program offers you the opportunity to have Winjet's excellent WinPrinter Manager coordinate all the fonts you already have with those it supplies.

The Winjet 800 lists for $995, but is available locally at significant discounts.

This past week I also installed the new Microsoft Windows 3.1 on my system. For those of you operating under 3.0, run -- don't walk -- to your nearest supplier and upgrade.

Windows 3.1 is faster, easier to use, more powerful, more feature-laden and less prone to those "Unrecoverable Application Error" messages. Upgrading is as automatic as any software can be. Put in the new disk and you can relax.

One of the best new features of 3.1 is the beefed-up File Manager, which now is more understandable, easier to use and more powerful. The Program Manager screen also has been improved, with more options to display and arrange program icons. Finally, print times have been improved significantly, although with complex documents I would advise the use of a device like WinJet.

Finally, for those of you who use the new Microsoft Word for Windows 2.0, a great new add-on program may make your life a whole lot easier. MasterWord for Word for Windows (now that's a mouthful) is one of those nifty programs that gives you faith in American business to ferret out a niche wherever possible.

First, MasterWord improves Word's help screens. With these new help screens, you will probably never consult the manual again.

MasterWord also improves the Button Bar with its own CustomBar, which can be customized in at least a zillion different ways. MasterWord has thoughtfully provided shortcuts for hundreds of Word functions, allowing you to assign them to buttons that are always available to you.

MasterWord is available from Alki Software Corporation (800-669-9673) for $59.95. It includes a free gift of 25 useful macros for Word.

Les Picker, a consultant in the field of philanthropy, works with charitable organizations and for-profit companies.

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