Gold Letters and Gold Writer. (evaluation) David H. Ahl.
Gold Letters and Gold Writer
Data Base Industries has released a set of 101 computer formatted business letters on floppy disk. Versions are available in CP/M, MS-DOS, and PC-DOS. The letters are furnished on a 5 1/4 or 8 disk, and a binder of all the letters with an index is included.
The disk contains the following assortment of letters:
8 credit collection
9 sales and marketing
13 customer relations
11 employee relations
8 credit terms
5 shareholder relations
4 community activity
4 media relations
11 personal business
12 internal memos
9 special situations
The letters are stored as ASCII files on the disk. Thus, a letter can be called up by nearly and word processing program. To do this, the word processing program is placed in drive A and the Gold Letters disk in the drive B; the letter name is then called as you would call one that you had saved. Some word processing programs may require a special suffix on the end of the file name; this can be inserted easily from the operating system program name utility.
Some of the letters are practically ready to be sent out as is with just the addition of an inside address and signature line, while others require that information be inserted. Of course, all of them can be modified as much or little as you wish. For example, where a letter says "our company,' you may well wish to put in your actual company name.
The flyer promoting the package claims that these letters will save time, imporve company image, speed up collections, increase mailing response, promote new business, and allow you to respond promptly to all customer and prospect queries. By and large, this is all true. The letters are at least as well written as the majority that we receive from other companies. Moreover, having them ready to go should save a fair amount of response time.
While it is unlikely that a typical company will have need for all of the letters, certainly many of them will be useful; they can also serve as models for more appropriate, customized letters.
What about the writing style? For the most part, the style is down to earth and practical. There is little flair or personality exhibited, but again, you can add your own. We were distressed to see several errors in grammar, for example ending the following sentence in a preposition: "I sincerely feel that you will be interested in seeing some of our products and items which your company could benefit from.' There were also some awkward constructions, but few blatant errors.
We also do not like the Gold Letters style of closing a business letter with "Sincerely.' We find "Sincerely yours,' or "Very truly yours,' more acceptable. The letters are all in the modified semiblock style. Good practice calls for one line to be skipped between paragraphs; however, most of these letters have two or three blank lines between paragraphs. Again, both of these items can be changed during editing, but we would rather have seen them adhere to standard convention as furnished.
Nevertheless, these are small nits to pick with this group of 101 letters, many of which are sure to be of use to practically any company, large or small.
Just in case you do not already have a word processing package for your computer --or even if you do but would like to use the letters disk by itself (in a single drive system, maybe?)--Gold Writer is included on the disk. This package was developed by Executive Software, Inc. and was originally known as Ready-Writer.
Gold Writer is an easy-to-use and easy-to-learn word processng package with few frills but everything necessary for normal business correspondence and memos. As the manual says, Gold Writer is intended for occasional use and "contains the most-used editing and printing features of WordStar.' Nevertheless, experience WordStar users will appreciate the ability of Gold Writer to recover deleted text, automatically indent paragraphs, and move directly to a specified line number.
In addition to the 29-page manual, Gold Writer comes with two short tutorial programs, Learn 1 and 2, which guide you as you learn cursor movement and editing commands. The editing mode has 11 cursor movement commands, all activated by pressing a letter key while the control key is held down. These commands move the cursor in four directions, scroll the text, and move the cursor by pages. These commands can be executed in "quick mode' by first pressing Q. Then, for example, instead of moving up one line at a time, the cursor would move to the top of the screen.
Text can be saved and recovered in several ways. You can save and return to the text, menu, or operating system or quit without saving.
Printing is an easy process. However, unlike some other word processing programs, if you want other than the standard formet, the formatting commands must be imbedded in the text file. These are known as dot commands, because a dot (or period) is the first thing on a line followed by the format command. These commands can be used to set page length, left margin, line length, header and footer lines, line spacing, page numbers and the like.
From the print menu, you specify only the file name, first and last page to be printed, and answers to four yes/no questions: disk file output, use form feed, suppress dot formats, and pause between pages (for single sheet printing).
Gold Writer as three toggles to turn on and off the insert mode, word wrap, and auto indent. Block commands provide the ability to mark, move, copy, delete, and save blocks of text or print format data. There is also a command to find a string of characters and replace it with another string selectively or on a global basis.
From this short description, you can see that Gold Writer is a capable package. It does not have subscripts, underlining, wild card searching, or single function keys. However, the included features ought to meet the needs of the majority of word processing users, not just the occasional user as promised in the documentation. Moreover, the price is right. In some sense, you might want to think of it as free since it is included in the $159 price of the Cold Letters disk.
A Gold Star
Data Base Industries gets our gold star for the Gold Letters and Gold Writer disk. Yes, the letters can be faulted on the basis of style, grammar, or personality. But it is easy to change them and store your own customized version. How long would it take you to get around to writing and saving 101 letters, or even 50 letters? Longer than 15 minutes each? If so, the $159 price of the Gold Letters disk is a bargain. And when you add in the Gold Writer word processing package, it is an exceptional value. So for this package, we award a gold star to DBI.
We understand that DBI will shortly have available a disk with 101 business contracts. Until we see it, we can't really pass judgment, except to say that we can't imagine that lawyers would be very happy about this, since there is a not a lawyer in our acquaintance who thinks in anything less than 20-page contracts.
Products: Gold Leters and Gold Writer (computer program)