CRAIG CROSSMAN -- Q.I use macros to save time, but setting them up and modifying them when I need a change can take up so much time that they become impractical.
Is there anything out there that is more automatic?
A. A macro is a group of instructions or series of keystrokes that can be initiated by pressing one key. This is an ideal way to perform a frequently used task that contains a predictable series of keystrokes.
Most macro programs have a record mode that keeps track of the key sequence that is typed and then creates a macro. But as you said, if you have a slight change, it can be a pain since you would have to re-record the entire sequence or edit it with a macro editor.
"Key Watch" from Micro Logic is an automatic keystroke-pattern detector for IBM-compatible PCs. Without specifying or planning anything in advance, you can condense key sequences into one keystroke.
For example, if you are using a word processor and want to enter a column of vertical asterisks, you would press the asterisk key, down, left ... asterisk, down, left, over and over again. Or you want to delete a diagonal range of cells in a spreadsheet. You'd press DEL, down, right ... DEL, down, right. It works, but it's slow and cumbersome. Your first thought would to be to create a macro, but by the time you do so, you could have finished the job. Besides, you probably won't ever need to do this exact task again anyway. So why bother?
With Key Watch, you'll hear a beep after two or three repetitions, letting you know that it has figured out what you are trying to do and that it has detected the pattern. You then press the Key Watch "action key" and zip through the rest of the sequence effortlessly.
It's available from Micro Logic Corp., P.O. Box 70, Hackensack, N.J. 07602, 201-342-6518.
Q. Is there a right-to-left word processor available for the Hebrew language?
A. Davka Corp. offers four Hebrew word processor versions: MultiWriter Ultra ($249) for IBM PCs and compatibles, AllScript ($350) for the Macintosh, Hebrew Writer ($75) for the Apple IIe and IIc, and Sofer GS ($199) for the Apple IIGS.
Features include the Translator, a module that translates individual words to and from either language, bidirectional text entry for entering both languages in the same document, and a split screen for working with two documents at the same time. Features vary in the different versions.
Davka also offers a complete line of desk-top publishing programs, various styles of Hebrew lettering fonts and Judaic graphic collections. Davka's line of educational programs teach the Hebrew language and Judaic history. There's even a Jewish Computer Cookbook ($39.95) that tells you how to prepare everything from chili and beef teriyaki to rumaki and knaidlach and still be kosher.
Davka Corp., 1-800-621-8227 or 312-944-4070.
Q. I read in one of your columns about companies that "recondition" empty laser printer toner (ink) cartridges and sell them for half-price. I own a Hewlett Packard DeskJet printer that uses disposable ink cartridges. It seems to me that there should be someone out there who can refill these, too. Is there?
A.Yes, but first a brief explanation. Laser printer cartridges are far more complex than the DeskJet cartridges. Laser cartridges contain moving parts that can be scratched from abrasive materials and wire filaments that can burn out after prolonged use. Replacing the toner is only part of the reconditioning process.
Quality reconditioners use a superior toner and usually replace the components that can wear out. In addition, proper reconditioning takes know-how.
Unfortunately, some services recharge the cartridge by replacing only the toner. This produces an inferior cartridge that prints poorly and may leak, severely damaging your expensive laser printer.
Because of a laser cartridge's complexity, avoid do-it-yourself kits. Make sure you buy reconditioned laser cartridges from a reputable supplier.
DeskJet cartridges have no moving parts, and they do not use heat. When they stop printing, it's usually because they have run out of ink. JetFill ($12.99), from JetFill America (2021 Guadalupe, Suite 8A, Austin, Tex. 78705; telephone 1-800-749-2993 or 512-469-5647), allows you to put more ink in. It consists of a disposable injector that looks like a fat, stubby hypodermic syringe.
Inside is a premeasured supply of the JetFill ink. Simply insert JetFill's needle into the cartridge and press the plunger. There are no messy overfills, and you have a replenished cartridge at half the price of a new one.
JetFill claims that its ink exceeds Hewlett Packard's ink standard by offering a better black saturation and greater water resistance to produce a sharper printed image. JetFill says you can refill the car- tridge five to 10 times without it clogging or failing.
JetFill will be available in red, yellow, blue and black. JetFill will refill cartridges that work with the Hewlett Packard DeskJet, DeskJet Plus or DeskWriter inkjet line of printers.
Q. Having just opened a branch office in Miami, we find that most of our printed documents need to be translated into Spanish. Because almost all of our material was originally created on our computers, is there any way to have the computers translate it for us?
A. There sure is.
Programs that translate from one language to another are starting to make their way into the personal computer arena, and they're surprisingly accurate.
Translate from Miami-based Finalsoft Corp., 305-477-2703 or 1-800-232-8228, and Spanish Assistant from Microtac Software, 619-272-5700 or 1-800-366-4170, are two such programs.
Simply put, you type in English text, and in a few seconds, you get a Spanish translation.
Using a dictionary that contains thousands of words and phrases, these programs translate complete phrases rather than individual words. That means the grammar and all of the letters and symbols of the Spanish language are properly applied.
Finalsoft claims "near-100 percent accuracy when simple, straightforward, grammatically correct English is input," but it is more realistic to look for a less lofty figure in either program and to expect to do some editing.
Both let you modify or add to the contents of their dictionaries, accommodating language nuances and stylistic preferences.
Spanish Assistant offers an "interactive" mode. When there is more than one Spanish translation of an English word, this option allows for selection of the intended meaning.
The option allows the writer to assign attributes such as gender, tense and personal address -- formal or informal -- traits to the translated English phrases.
For IBM PC and compatibles only, Translate sells for $495. The Assistant Series from Microtac includes Spanish, French, Italian and soon-to-be-released German versions ($79.95 per language).
Send questions to Craig Crossman, Business Monday, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132.