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April 2004 • Vol.4 Issue 4
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The Bleeding Edge Of Software
Inside The World Of Betas
Locate 3.0 alpha, 26.1.2004

Official product name : PolyEdit
Version # previewed: 5.0 RC Tamga (beta)
Publisher: PolySoft Solutions
Developer and URL: PolySoft Solutions;
ETA: Q2 2004
Why you should care: Finally, a usable alternative to Microsoft Word.
Windows has had a built-in search function to locate files for about a decade now, but it doesn't seem to have gotten much better through the years. With hard drives now reaching 200GB, searching for a single file or many files with a wildcard takes longer and longer. There has to be a better way. If you use Linux, you know there is via a background program that automatically scans your files and adds them to a database, which is itself searchable at any time. The results are almost instantaneous.

Such programs are available from third-party developers, and Locate is one of the faster free versions of the classic Unix/Linux tool I've used. Once installed, it scans your drives and builds its own searchable database. You can initiate a scan using a System Tray icon or using a schedule you set, such as every day at 1 a.m. To search the database, you use a dialog box that looks and feels like Windows' default Search feature. If you didn't know better, you'd think it was Windows' Search function, except that the results appear in just seconds.

Despite being a beta, the Locate's "crawler" module is very well-behaved, consuming very little CPU power and working unobtrusively. The main search dialog box, however, always generated an "Unable To Locate DLL" error message in my testing. Simply dismissing the error let the program work normally. That's what betas are for, of course, and I'd expect the final version to solve this problem. The final version should also be freeware, so there's little reason not to check this one out.

BlogJet Beta

Official product name : BlogJet
Version # previewed: Beta
Publisher: DiFolders Software
Developer and URL: DiFolders Software;
ETA: Q2 2004
Why you should care: A nice way for the HTML-impaired to get a good-looking blog.
There are a lot of free and low-cost blogging sites out there, but some of them don't offer a suite of editing tools to make editing and formatting text as easy as using a word processor. BlogJet aims to become the standard editing platform for several of the largest blogging sites by offering these tools. As a basic editor, BlogJet works fairly well.

BJ works by knowing the APIs of several blogging sites—including Blogger, b2, .Text, TypePad, Movable Type, Blogware, LifeJournal, and DeadJournal—either in their public forms or when you're running the blogging package on your own server. When working with Blogger, for example, BJ asks for your Blogger account name and password and then lets you access and edit past blog entries via a simple table. Just double-click the entry, and it appears in the editor. Make your changes, submit the entry, and the past entry is changed.

The editor itself is simplistic but works well. There's a basic toolbar with tools for Bold, Italics, Underline, Text Color, and Bulleted Lists. Just highlight the text and click a button. Other buttons make inserting links and images simple if you don't know HTML. You can save blog entries locally or submit them immediately for publication. With Blogger, the submission appears immediately.

If you use a blogging system that doesn't offer WYSIWYG editing and you don't know a lick of HTML, BlogJet may be worth its shareware fee (yet to be unannounced). If you already speak HTML fluently, the app may not be as appealing.

PolyEdit 5.0 RC Tamga (beta)

Official product name : PolyEdit
Version # previewed: 5.0 RC Tamga (beta)
Publisher: PolySoft Solutions
Developer and URL: PolySoft Solutions;
ETA: Q2 2004
Why you should care: Finally, a usable alternative to Microsoft Word.
There's no way a text editor from a little-known software house in Russia can possibly replace Microsoft's end-all-be-all Word, right? No, there's not. There's simply no way PolyEdit, a compact, graceful, and elegant word processor, can compete with Word's arguably overgrown, graceless, and cumbersome everything-and-the-kitchen-sink feature set. The fact is, however, that you probably don't use all those features crammed into Word. If you're one of those users, perhaps you should take a good look at PolyEdit. If you do, prepare for the little things to impress you.

For starters, unlike a lot of alternative word processors out there, PolyEdit looks professional. Toolbar buttons, menus, and icons look slick, and the entire program feels very spry. In addition, the app doesn't get trapped into trying to duplicate all those silly Word features that only hard-core, document-creation professionals use. Thus, you won't find such things as revision marks, document tracking, an outliner, or bibliographical tools. PolyEdit does import and export Word documents just fine, so long as the document doesn't use some of these features. For example, an Outline Word document turns into nested, bulleted lists in PolyEdit.

If you can do without such features, PolyEdit feels like a breath of fresh air, mostly because the tools that most people need to complete tasks are actually thought out. For example, to insert a Page Break in Word, you click Insert and Break, choose Page Break in a new dialog box, and then click OK. In PolyEdit, you click Insert and Page Break from a menu or just click the Insert Page Break button at the bottom of the window.

Similar fresh thinking is evident when looking at multiple documents at once. (PolyEdit uses tabs like those in the Mozilla or Opera browsers.) Other examples include pasting unformatted text from a formatted source (CTRL-ALT-V), changing line spacing (you use a clearly labeled toolbar button instead of navigating to Word's Paragraph/Indents and Spacing tab), and using any one of the 100 other tools typical word-processor users need.

There are rough patches with PolyEdit, such as the lack of a Help file. In addition, I was unable to locate a footnotes command, which is a must-have for students. And although there's support for tables, the feature is too rudimentary even for normal users. Still, $25 gets you a word processor that will probably get you excited to use it. The more you look, the more you'll like.

Website-Watcher 3.60 beta

Official product name : Website-Watcher
Version # previewed: 3.60 beta
Publisher: Martin Aignesberger
Developer and URL: Martin Aignesberger;
ETA: Q2 2004
Why you should care: A thorough way to check your favorite sites for changes.
Maintaining a constant watch over many Web sites is a constant chore, provided that's what you want to even do. For example, perhaps you belong to a user group that has its own For Sale board or an Events page with listings that are on a first-come, first-serve basis. You might want to just check those pages. There are a few Web services that do just this (some free), but Website-Watcher offers many more features for those who habitually click the Refresh button.

In addition to the program monitoring Web sites according to a schedule you set, you can configure the app to check pages more than once a day, which is more than most online services permit. Website-Watcher also keeps an archive of past pages, letting you track changes over time for a given site, highlighting changes in yellow. If you tell Website-Watcher to search for specific words, it highlights those words in blue. In addition, alternating banners or headers or footers that baffle many free services won't fool Website-Watcher.

Other nice touches include a Watch This Page link you can add to Internet Explorer, Netscape/Mozilla, and Opera. This lets you easily add a site to monitor. The program can also monitor RSS feeds, assemble different articles into readable pages, back up your bookmarks and monitored sites, and archive pages into Zip files.

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