NovaTerm 9.3. (telecommunications program) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Ranjan Bose
NovaTerm is a powerful and well-designed telecommunications program that works well with Supra 2400 or any other modem. In addition to the 64's standard 40-column display, NovaTerm supports an 80-column ANSI (or VF 52/102) graphics screen. Nitpickers will always find fault with the clarity of an 80-column display on a 64, but at least that option exists. The program is easy to use and provides several protocols, XMODEM (CRC and checksum), YMODEM, Punter, and others, to ensure error-free transmission of data.
NovaTerm has a smallish buffer (8K), but you can automatically direct any buffer overflow to disk. Even if your system is equipped with DOS speed-up utilities, Commodore drives can slow down the data stream if you use large-block (1024 bytes) transfer protocols such as XMODEM 1K or YMODEM. NovaTerm supports RAM expansion units (REU) and can considerably enhance your system's efficiency. If your system doesn't have an REU and the file to be uploaded or downloaded is smaller than 8192 bytes, then the NovaTerm buffer (RAM disk) can be used to achieve the same end. The program works well with JiffyDOS. While a CPU accelerator such as Schnedler System's 4-MHz Turbo Master CPU cannot be expected to increase the actual telecommunications speed (after all, 2400 bps is 2400 bps!), it does reduce the processing time required by the computer. This becomes apparent when you notice the faster scrolling and display. Unfortunately, Turbo Master isn't fully compatible with NovaTerm. YMODEM doesn't work when you're saving a file to the disk with the CPU running at 4 MHz. Saving to a buffer does work, however. XMODEM works well without significant improvement over native 1-MHz mode. Also, during half-duplex transmission, with the modem echoing characters that you type, the characters appear as garbage on your screen, but they're transmitted correctly. This can be confusing, so I'd recommend disabling the cartridge when using NovaTerm.
NovaTerm has the desired complement of file editors and autorun scripts. By using the latter, your computer can go online at a certain time, collect messages, download or send files, and hang up without your having to baby-sit the process!
Aprotek distributes NovaTerm as shareware with its modems. You can also download the program from Aprotek's BBS at (503) 582-1225. Callers can download the documentation and the related files on the first call. NovaTerm is also available on QuantumLink and Genie.
Since this program is shareware, you're invited to try it at no charge. If you decide it's useful, send author Nick Rossi a donation of at least $20. Version 9.4 should be available by the time this review appears.