|The Atari SIG Historical Archive|
|Created and hosted by: atarimax.com|
|[ HOME | GO ATARI | 8-BIT | ST/TT | PORTFOLIO | LYNX | JAGUAR | LIBRARY ]|
Article #24 (29 is last): Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.16-32bit.reviews From: JJL101@PSUVM.BITNET Subject: Straight Fax/Telecommunications/Commercial Posted-By: xx004 (aa400 - John J. Lehett) Edited-By: xx004 (aa400 - John J. Lehett) Date: Sat Jul 18 15:04:55 1992 Taken from: ST Report (#825) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= > STraight FAX STR Review Just the FAX man, ....just the FAX! """"""""""""""""""""""" 'STraight Fax' ============== Program..........: STraight Fax Developer........: Joppa Software Development Cost.............: $89.95 Compatibility....: ST/STe/TT Version..........: 1.0 USA by Kevin-john Conway Preamble As an automation consultant and someone who will once again be looking for work in the next few months, I send a lot of faxes. I also receive a few. It was, then, with some interest that I saw that Joppa Software Development were showing their new STraight Fax software at the Toronto Atari Convention and Exhibition (ACE) '92. Since getting the 'STraight Fax' software and my fax-modem, I have played around a great deal with and have come to love the software. Features -------- Some of the features of the 'STraight Fax' software include: * Manages up to 255 pages in a fax transmission, and 100 numbers in a phone list. In addition, up to 30 multiple page, multiple destination faxes may be sent. * Ability to send multiple degas, fax, img, or text files and ability to send a cover page only. * Support for fax send and receive modems from 2400 to 14400 baud. * Provides Class 3 fax-modem compatibility via software. * Printer drivers for Pagestream 1.8, 2.1 and Calamus 1.09 S or SL as well as for GDOS-based applications. These allow fax pages to be generated directly from these applications. * Support for scanners. Requirements ------------ The 'STraight Fax' requires the following: * ST/STe/TT * Hard drive recommended * Two (2) (or more) megabytes of ram recommended. * Class 2 send/receive fax-modem. Must use Rockwell chips. (Zoom and Supra fax-modems are recommended.) * Printer. Requires a compatible GDOS printer driver to print received or generated faxes. Ease of Use ----------- The 'STraight Fax' software is generally quite easy to use, offering the user the option of function keys, mouse or keyboard equivalents in most cases. Gem windows and alert boxes are snappy and, for the most part, well placed on the screen. The principle of the 'STraight Fax' software is fairly simple. The user simply has to create a file to be faxed, select it and select the destination phone number. The software will convert it to a fax format it is not already a fax file, dial the phone number and handle the transmission of the pages. A fax transmission can consist of multiple files. 'STraight Fax' supports the degas and img picture formats, ascii text files as well as its own fax files. A fax transmission can con- sist of any combination of 30 of these. Scheduling a fax transmission is also very easy. When either sending a single page fax or a multiple page fax, the user is presented with a phone list from which they select the numbers they wish to send the transmission to. The box that allows scheduling appears on the right hand side of the screen. The user is able to set the time of transmission with a simple in- crease/decrease arrow box. Faxes can only be scheduled for the 24 hours previous or following the current time. Scheduling a multiple file transmission sets the transmission time for all of the phone numbers in the selected set. It is not possible to set individual transmission times for individual numbers to take advantage of reduced long-distance rates, for example. Fortunately the user can save selected files in a mul- tiple file transmission as a set. They can then load this set in the multiple file transmission dialogue screen and set the scheduled time as necessary. The 'STraight Fax' software will let the user take advantage of special long-distance dialing services by creating dialing macros to access these. In addition, the user can imbed characters in the phone number, e.g. '1-800-55"A"-"TARI". Printing FAX files ------------------ One of the most powerful and useful features of the 'STraight Fax' software is the ability to use its printer drivers to print 'fax files' directly to disk. ('Fax files' are essentially image or graphic files that the software uses to handle transmission of faxes.) Since the software supports GDOS applications, I dusted off my copy of Microsoft Write that was included with my original 1040STf and booted it up. After some experimentation with the ASSIGN.SYS configuration file and the FSMGDOS.SYS driver, I had achieved some results. Results often seem to be a strange translation of the in- tended into the possible. This holds true for the 'STraight Fax' FSMGDOS driver as it shrinks the output text by at least 30%. In short, what you seem on the screen is not what you get in the fax file nor is it what you would print out. The reason for this shrinkage in the outputted text seems to get rid of the jagged edges that GDOS output tends to have. Irregardless, once I discovered this, I was able to get some fairly decent results. My primary purpose in purchasing the 'STraight Fax' software was to be able to generate r sum s and covering letters that have degree of style and sophistication but without the cost of laser printing and faxing at a printing shop. With the many fonts that GDOS offers and the special effects of Microsoft Write, I have managed to create an attractive and effective r sum that can be sent with the immediacy of the fax. In addition, I now have control over my own faxes and the have greatly reduced the time and money I spent in sending them. I expect that the 'STraight Fax' and fax-modem will soon pay for themselves. Documentation ------------- The manual is quite well written and has a great deal of useful information including a general description of faxes and how fax-modem software works. It has a comprehensive Table of Contents, but unfortunately lacks an index. The typeface is clear and easily read. Bolding and italics are used for empha- sis and for headings. Sample screens are given for every popup screen. Each of these contains a illustrative example. Other useful information is given on how to use Menu Titles, Text Editing key combinations and Sliders as well as Function Keys and other user interfaces. Additionally, context-sensitive help can be accessed within in each popup window when using the program. Bugs and Problems ----------------- On occasion, the file selector box is called up to allow the user to select a cover page or header file. When this hap- pens, the user finds two sets of 'Ok' and 'Cancel' buttons on the screen. I found this confusing and disconcerting at first, but got use to it, although my eye is till drawn away from the file selector box to the originally displayed selector boxes. I found the software quite reasonably intuitive, however, I did have some teething pains getting the software up and running. Since I have a Mega STe with Tos 2.05, I needed to run the 'SERPTCH2.PRG' program to fix some problems with RTS/CTS on the modem port. This is not mentioned until well into the manual, and only in passing. It is only mentioned in passing in the 'README.TXT' file. Without the 'SERPTCH2.PRG' program, the modem does not initialize properly, if at all. With this patch program, the modem works flawlessly. The manual also passes over the installation of the GDOS driver somewhat rapidly. It assumes that the user is using the GDOS printer selector or the FSMGDOS system, which is not always the case. In addition, the manual makes no mention that the included 'DRIVPATH.PRG' program must be run in order to point the outputted files to the correct subdirectories. If not already installed, installation of the GDOS driver may require some degree of techie knowledge. The manual does include a 'installation' section in which I would have expected to find information about these two problems I had. Unfortunately, this part of the manual focuses on the registration of the program and the installation onto the hard drive. In does not attempt to cover the sort of problems I encountered save to refer the user to README.TXT file. There are some other minor bugs: -------------------------------- 1. Multiple fax files can not be sent. They have to be degas, txt or img. 2. The scheduler will not resend fax files. Same rules as above. 3. Some fax files, either received or generated, do not print correctly. They only print as a page of grey fuzz, although they can be viewed without problems. Pagestream was able to print these, once converted to img format, but TimeWorks DTP couldn't. Adding two megs of memory to bring my machine to a total of 4 megs of memory didn't help either. None of these bugs greatly affect the use of the program, nor do they affect data storage. They are easily worked around. Recommendations --------------- The 'STraight Fax' software is easy to use, well-priced and well supported. It has added further power to my STe as an office computer system. I heartily recommend to anyone who needs to send or receive a significant number of faxes. In the long run, it is far cheaper than having a fax machine, and far more flexible. Copyright 1992 by Bibliomaniac Library Consultancy Kevin-john Conway, President Permission to requote in part or in full freely given provided this copyright notice appears Editor Note; We have it on good authority that "Straight Fax" will accomodate Class 1 Fax/modems very shortly. Version 1.03+ This is good stuff!