Changing times; Managing Your Money; creating quilts; a new Nibble Notch; and new AppleWorks products. (Apple Cart) Joe Desposito.
Years ago I worked with a guy who made an investment in a harness horse. The horse developed into one of the top pacers on the New York circuit and launched my pal into a career as a standardbred owner. Recently, he came to me with a problem.
He wanted to keep track of the performance of each of the 25 horses he now owns. He is using Multiplan on an Apple IIe and is having trouble with an apparently simple problem. All he wants to do is combine a horse's finishe time with the track variant for the night. (A track variant is an indication in fifths of a second of how fast or slow the track surface is on a particular night.)
A problem arises when you enter times like 2:02.1 (read as two minutes, two and one-fifth seconds) into a Multiplan worksheet. The program doesn't know how to handle a number entered in this format. Additionally, the track variant is given as an integer value. For example, +11 would mean that the track surface was 11/5 faster than normal. In this case, the desired performance factor would be 2:02.1 plus 11.
Naturally, when you input a number like 2:02.1 into a worksheet, it is treated as text rather than a number (the colon is a dead giveaway). So the first problem is transforming the text into a number. This can be done with the VALUE function. The next hurdle is caused by the intrinsic nature of time itself. As a number, time does not run in the same pack as ordinary decimal numbers. So a transformation is needed. This can be accomplished with the MID function.
As an example we'll transform 2:02.1 into its decimal equivalent, which is 122.2. First we'll use the MID function, which allows you to choose one or more characters of a text expression. The function has three arguments: text, start position, and number of characters. We can select the first 2 in the expression by using MID("2:02.1",1,1). Next we select seconds by using MID("2:02.1:,3,2). Finally, we select fifths of a second by using MID("2:02.1",6,1). Using the MID function, we have isolated the numbers we want. But remember, the program still thinks that these characters are text!
To change each character to a number we need the VALUE function. So we use the two functions in combination as follows: VALUE(MID("2:02.1",1,1)), which returns the number 2. To finish off the formula we need the time-to-decimal transformation, which means multiply minutes by 60, divide fifths by 5 and add. In this case we have the following formula: 60*MALUE(MID("2:02.1",1,1)) +VALUE(MID("2:02.1",3,2)) +VALUE(MID("2:02.1",6,1))/5
The performance factor is calculated by adding the track variant divided by five to the expression shown above. Once time is transformed into its decimal equivalent, it is much easier to graph and perform statistical calculations on a group of times.
The only remaining problem is one of flexibility, and this is easily solved. Naturally, you wouldn't want to create a formula that had a specific time associated with it. Instead, you would include a cell reference. Thus you might have something that looks like MID R2C3,6,1) where R2C3 is a relative cell reference.
In closing, it is appropriate to note that this method can be used on any version of Multiplan.
Managing Your Money
Though much Apple II software has been ported to the IBM PC, it is rare to see a blockbuster IBM PC product revised for the Apple. For example, I don't think you'll ever see Lotus 1-2-3 or Framework running on an Apple Iic. But at least one company thinks that Apple II users have an interest in sophisticated software. That company is MECA, developer of Andrew Tobias's Managing Your Money.
According to John Hawkins, executive vice president of MECA, the Apple IIc version will have all the features of the IBM PC version 1.52 of MYM. If you are not familiar with the program, take a look at what Ken Uston had to say about it in our August, 1985 issue. I think the program (on the IBM PC) deserves all the accolades it has been receiving.
Though MYM retails for $199, it has been significantly discounted at some outlets. The Apple version will run only on the IIc or an enhanced IIe with 128K. And Macintosh users have something to look forward to also. Hawkins says that a Mac MYM products is in the works.
Quite a Quilt
If you have ever created a quilt (or watched someone else do it), you can appreciate the amount of work involved. Now a new program from Random House, calle Patchworks, can take at least some of the drudgery out of quilt making.
There are two parts to the program. One helps you design the quilt, and the other calculates the material needed for your design. I tried the program and found it exceptionally easy to create elaborate designs.
Because of the limitations of the Apple II as regards color, the program uses a unique way of creating color prints. When you create your designs, the program always uses the same three colors. If you have a color printer and want to print out your design, you can change the original colors.
The program was created by Dorothy and George Zoph. Dorothy has quilted for 36 years and has garnered some awards for her talent; her husband wrote the program.
The program is helpful in other areas of design, too. For example, you could use it to create a floor or wall pattern. However, you could not get automatic calculations for materials for these designs. Suggested retail price of Patchworks is $59.95.
Nibble Notch II
I suppose there are plenty of people who wonder why you can't use the flip side of your Apple II diskettes. Well, in fact, you can. Nibble Notch has been helping people do it for years with their disk notcher product. They also offer a disk called the Disk Optimizer that will verify the integrity of the media on the flip side. Their new product is the Disk Optimizer II, which works with ProDOS and Pascal as well as the older DOS 3.3. It also offers many user refinements, expanded documentation, and on-screen promots. Purchased alone, Disk Optimizer II retails for $24.95. When purchased with the disk notcher, the cost is $29.95.
New Apple Works Products
The popularity of Apple Works has not been overlooked by third-party software vendors. Here are a few of the new products that enhance the capabilities of Apple Works.
PBI software has released a new version of GraphWorks, the business graphics program for AppleWorks. GraphWorks 1.2C uses menus and folders similar to AppleWorks and includes a new tutorial on the program disk. The program allows you to store and recall graphs and has increased compatibility with interface cards and printers. PBI has also removed copy protection from the new version, which sells for $79.95.
Another product from PBI is Jeeves, a desktop accessory from PBI is Jeeves, a desktop accessory for AppleWorks. It runs in the background and can be called with a single keystroke. There are five desk organizers: an appointment calendar, a four-function calculator, a memo pad, a phone dialer with directory, and a software alarm clock. Jeeves sells for $49.95.
Spellworks is a spelling checker for AppleWorks from Advanced Logic Systems. It contains 90,000 words and checks 10 words per second, yet sells for just $49.95.
And just so Apple II Plus users don't feel left out in the cold, Videx has developed the AppleWorks Modifier, a product that reconfigures the AppleWorks startup disk so the program can be used on the Apple II Plus with a Videoterm or Ultraterm card (80 columns) and the one-wire shift modification. The program requires a 64K Apple II Plus and provides 10K of editing memory. For more editing memory, the AppleWorks Modifier supports RAM cards (up to an additional 128K) from Titan Technologies, Abacus, and Legend Industries. Suggested retail price of the AppleWorks Modifier is $59.