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November 2000

The Free Files

By Klaus Staedtler von Przyborski ©November 2000, Translation: Christian Hennecke

Software mentioned in this article:

PMCalc - http://www.leo.org/pub/comp/os/os2/leo/pmtools/pmcalc.zip
SourceCALC - http://os2.dhs.org/~glassman/software/scalc98.zip
MACALC - http://www.leo.org/pub/comp/os/os2/leo/pmtools/macalc.zip
NH48 - http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/apps/calc/nh48s_a3.zip
PMPlot 1.2 - http://www.leo.org/pub/comp/os/os2/leo/graphics/pmplt120.zip
DBGraph 2.1b3 - http://www.leo.org/pub/comp/os/os2/leo/graphics/dbrph21.zip
Gnuplot 3.8 - http://www.sci.muni.cz/~mikulik/gnuplot/gp38c-Sept6-os2bin.zip
Notizen 0.97b - http://www.inf.tu-dresden.de/~ck5/files/Notizen097b.zip
Wanda 1.04 - http://www.informatik.uni-trier.de/CIP/thielen/wanda/files/wanda104.zip
EXCAL 3M - http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/apps/pim/excal.zip
Tinyalarm - http://www.leo.org/pub/comp/os/os2/leo/pmtools/tinyalrm.zip
Worldclock 1.20 - http://redrival.com/os2util/zip/clock120.zip
Units 0.95 - http://redrival.com/os2util/zip/units095.zip
PMEuro 1.5 - http://www.warphouse.de/pmeuro.zip
PMFax 3.2 lite - http://www.kellergroup.com/download/public/pmflite_o.exe
Fax 1.12 - ftp://ftp.resi.at/pub/Harald.Pollack/fax112.Lzh
Robotics Messenger 1.1 - http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/apps/comm/romes110.zip
VDIAL 3.23 - http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/apps/comm/vdial323.zip
Dialer/2 - http://www.os2.spb.ru/software/projects/pmdialer/

So after Vol.1 hopefully has been well received, here is the second issue of "The Free Files". Sorry for the delay of one month, but ConfigTool and other things kept me busy.

A short reminder: This is exclusively about "Freeware", regardless of the type of license, and I am going to present only packages that are selected by me and which are known to work. The topic of licenses is a "hot button" today. Those who follow the discussions around KDE vs. GNOME (both are X environments, but can't hold a candle to the Workplace Shell) are able to see how the license topic leads to inexorable trench wars and how developer resources are absurdly wasted.

Unfortunately, OS/2 is not immune against the waste of developer resources, too. From time to time there is something like a favorite package, and even if there already is a decent program around, people re-event the wheel. Once, e.g., Euro currency converters were such a favorite package and judging from the newsgroups Cdrecord/2 frontends are becoming the next in line. Wouldn't it make much more sense to share resources (in the end only OS/2 is capable of multitasking/-threading by time-sharing, too) and work together on one - or two competing - projects?

My own experiences with Goran Ivankovic have only been of the best kind, for instance. Everybody does what he is best at and still the ideas of all participants flow into a single project. By the way, this is also more fun, the development progresses faster, and a first test is already integrated. You know, four eyes can see more than two.

Before I get lost in dreams let's get back on the real topic:

Little helpers for your office (SOHO)

Most of packages I'm going to mention in the following are quite inconspicuous, no "must-have" and very few people would pay for them. However, once you have gotten used to them you ask yourself how an operating system gets by without them. Probably that's the reason why there are similar packages available as an add-on for every operating system I know.

Generally speaking, OS/2 comes well-fitted for being productive in every kind from the start. But for a real office there are still some helpers missing.

Though the computer was originally invented to do mathematic calculations (for John v. Neumann and Norbert Wiener this was self-evident), I always wondered why it is not possible to do calculations in a simple way on a computer.

For instance, only since the 7.0 release of IBM's PC-DOS can you do calculations, of course from the command line, and OS/2 comes completely without any helper for this. As far as simple calculations are concerned, this gap can be filled with PMCALC, an IBM EWS package. For some time also a remake of  SourceCALC has been available from Glassman now. Both do their job for me, but if somebody needs to do more complex calculations, MACALC and NH48 are modeled after HP calculators. Alas, they both haven't been completed, but are quite usable. For those who want to dig deeper and who need graphical output of their numbers the number of choices is relatively large: PMPLOT 1.2 is currently only available in German, DBGRAPH 2.1b3 has been beta for a while, and GNUPLOT 3.8 has mouse support.

What would a decent office be without those sticky notes (aka Post-IT)? Here the German NOTIZEN 0.97b by Christoph Küchler and WANDA 1.04 by Thorsten Thielen have succeeded as electronic alternative, but I can't say which one I like more.

Some will be missing a Personal Information Manager, here EXCAL 3M is certainly a good choice. Excal is also an IBM EWS package, that ought to show the advantages of the WPS. But as I prefer a version that I can take with we all the time, I have stayed with a leather file-o-fax.

OS/2 is well-fitted with clocks "out of the box"; Warp 4 even offers two with the Warpcenter. But I miss a clock with an alarm feature, one that wakes me up after a certain amount of "office sleep", like TINYALARM by Martin Vieregg, or the one-for-all solution for anything related to time: WORLDCLOCK 1.20 by Goran Ivankovics. With Worldclock you "have the grip on time", you can start any program at a defined point in time, start alarms ... A description of of Worldclock would be worth a separate review and as special bonus you get to see the "Blue Moon" (just try setting the date to Oct. 2001).

Once in a while I have to do a unit conversion. For example, I want to know how many DIN A4 sheets can be placed on an A3 sheet, how many gallons make a liter, or what my Thai stocks in Baht are currently worth in Dollars. It's all no problem for UNITS 0.95, also written by Goran Ivankovic. Additionally the underlying database can be extended to meet your personal requirements and if you mail your changes to Goran Ivankovics, the other users will be able to take advantage of them, too. If you just need one of the Euro converters I mentioned at the beginning, then PMEURO 1.5 by Carsten Müller is certainly faster and more slick.

Even though e-mail meanwhile has cut down the amount of faxes significantly, where would an office be without a fax? Kellergroup has kindly made PMFAX 3.2 Lite available for all OS/2 users at no cost, which is especially interesting since the version of Faxworks Lite that comes with OS/2's Bonuspak doesn't work anymore if one of the latest fixpaks is applied. Of course, a fax-modem is mandatory. If you are able to live with a more complicated solution (e.g. you can't send a fax directly from within your application by using the fax printer driver), you will find that FAX112 by Dr. Harald Pollack has much more to offer, and Dr. Pollack is very responsive to bug reports and fixes, as well as feature suggestions. The combination of PMFax (I am using the non-free PRO version, though) for sending and receiving while the computer is running, the US Robotics Message-Pro modem for receiving even when the computer is turned off, and of ROBOTICS MESSENGER 1.1 by Rossen Assenov that relies on parts of Dr. Pollack's Fax112 for maintaining the US Robotics message modem has proven to be good for me. To avoid having to have your phone on your desk all the time or if your cordless phone is buried somewhere again, you can easily make your calls from the desktop with a voice-modem and VDIAL 3.23 by Rossen Assenov (Editor's note: See also VOICE line and how to share it). Alternatively you can try DIALER/2 that is also available in English (however that version is not the latest).

What I am missing is a simple address database for PM. You don't want to fire up DB2 to retrieve two or three addresses.

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