Computers: Feedback

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The Independent Online
Literature package is easy and useful

With regard to the request of Isabel Hilton for a book-writing organiser (22 July), and the reply from my learned collegue, Professor Frank Millerd - can I draw your readers' attention to an extremely useful package, and one which I believe is available as shareware.

Papers version 2.0 is a simple but powerful scientific literature database system. The program is menu-driven and as such is reasonably self-explanatory.

It is run on IBM PC-compatibles and uses industry standard dBASE format files for storing reference data.

Papers will store details of publications, with authors, title, year, volume, pages, keywords (six) and notes (up to 64k characters).

It also has a built-in text editor for notes, and records may be marked for quick access.

Dr T Skarzynski

PO Box 1374

London W5.

Colour chaos

I think that last week's article on graphics cards greatly underestimated the problems of upgrading this part of computers.

The only benefit of working with more than 256 colours in windows is when working with graphic files. Most applications' screens are programmed to use less than 256 colours anyway. If you're not working with these types of files the display may well be slower than the card you started with]

A rarely mentioned problem with graphics accelerators is that of monitor compatability. This can be exasperating to say the least, and for inexperienced users impossible to sort out. This is because if the monitor won't display an image, it is next to impossible to get back to square one] Also, the data available to the prospective upgrader is often insufficient to warn of possible incompatibilities.

Having been through this upgrade I'm far more sceptical of reviews and such general articles about technical issues. IBM compatibles can be a nightmare to upgrade, and potential upgraders should not be encouraged to regard the matter lightly.

Physically installing the card is the easiest part of the process. It goes downhill as soon as you switch the power on] BE WARNED.

Paul Holman

Highbury, North London.

rhossydd@cix. compulink. co. uk

Simple stuff

I would like to endorse the 'keep it simple' principle (29 July), not only on behalf of the 'poor but honest' but also for the elderly and technologically challenged. As a 70-year-old non-typist who has had great pleasure from an Amstrad 9512 for the last four years, I live in dread of the day when it fails and parts are no longer available. How could I learn the intricacies of of a new, sophisticated machine which would provide far more than I need or want?

Ann Noyes

Guildford

SAMARITANS EXPAND: The Samaritans have expanded their trial presence on the Internet. Since 14 July they have had an electronic mailbox on the Cix conferencing system (Samaritans@cix. compulink. co. uk). In the first month, this received 200 messages - 15 from distressed people and the rest from well-wishers, journalists and academics. This result so encouraged the organisation that it has set up a dedicated Internet address. Those in need of assistance may now mail jo@samaritans. org, though the old address is still valid.

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