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Reach Millions! - With The HPJ

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HomeCraft Personal Journal
 · 15 Oct 2023
Reach Millions! - With The HPJ
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The HomeCraft Personal Journal runs on any IBM or compatible PC with an EGA or VGA monitor and graphics card. Although the program will run from a floppy drive, a hard drive is almost necessary if you intend to read illustrated documents, due to the graphics overhead. You should also have at at least 256K of RAM (512K recommended) and DOS 2.1 or higher. If you run Microsoft Windows, you must run this program as a DOS application. Consult the Windows manual for details.

To start the program from DOS, just type HPJ and press the ENTER key.


The control panel is the area visible at the bottom of your screen while you're reading. Starting from the left, under the title is a handy date and time display. Then there are graphic representations of the ESC, PgUp, PgDn, Home, End, F1 and F2 keys. If you have a mouse (you can tell if it's operative by checking to see if the arrow-shaped mouse cursor is visible) you can "click" on the pictured keys by moving the mouse cursor over the key, then pressing (and releasing) the LEFT mouse button. Only the left mouse button is used in the HPJ. You can also press the corresponding key on your PC keyboard, which, of course, is your only option if you don't have a mouse.

Pressing the ESC key takes you back to the Table of contents. Use the Page Up or Page Down keys (PgUp/PgDn on some keyboards) to page through the document. Some readers allow "scrolling" one line at a time with the up/down arrow keys. This is very hard on the eyes, especially in graphic modes, as the text tends to "roll" down the screen. The HPJ "pops up" each page in sequence, which is more like turning pages in a book. The same method is used with the HOME and END keys, which take you to the first and last pages of an article.

Finally, the F1 key presents a brief help screen (F1 accesses help in most PC programs) which summarizes the information in this and the last two paragraphs. Pressing F2 brings up the Reader Options Menu, shown to the right. This can be considered the "main menu" of the HPJ. All "pop up" menus operate the same way. You can "click" on your choice with the mouse, or press the number key that corresponds to the selection you want. Every menu also has a "Quit This Menu" option, in case you change your mind, or brought up the menu by mistake. There are also instructions for each menu in a window just right of the options (not shown here).


When you select "Table of Contents" (or press ESC while reading an article) the Table of Contents (TOC) screen appears. The right side of the screen lists the articles for that issue. Just point to your choice and press the left mouse button. The article will be loaded and the first page displayed. You can also use the up or down arrow keys and move the small arrow to the article you want, then press ENTER. If you don't have a mouse, you must use this method. This screen is also where you quit the HPJ. Either select the "Quit to DOS" option or press ESC. An "Are you sure?" message will appear. Press "Y" to quit, or any other key to cancel the quit request.

The Bookmark Feature

For your convenience the HPJ will let you set an "electronic bookmark". If you are interrupted or for any reason have to leave the HPJ before you have finished reading an article, and you want to return to the exact article and page the next time you start the HPJ, just press CTRL-B (hold down the CTRL key and press the 'B' key once). A message will appear that says "Bookmark file written..." The next time you start the HPJ it will bypass the Table of Contents and load in the article you were reading, then pop up the page you were on when you set the bookmark. There can only be one bookmark file, so if you set another one it overwrites the first. If you don't set another bookmark, then the first one is deleted so you won't be sent back to your previous place then next time you start the HPJ.


The first real submenu, PRINT CURRENT PAGE/ARTICLE gives you several options for printing. Here "page" refers to that part of the document visible on the screen. The first two options produce graphic prints, which will include any illustrations on the page. Be sure to select the correct type of printer. Option 1 is ONLY for laser printers. All others should select Option 2, if you want a graphic print. Color printing is not supported. The third and fourth options will produce a text-only printout, which is quicker and uses less ribbon or toner. Option 3 prints only the text on the current screen page, which would be handy for getting a bibliography, addresses or other info. very quickly. The fourth option prints the entire .DOC file. (In fact, you could print this article right now by selecting this option!)

When selecting any of the print options, always be sure your printer is on line and has a good supply of paper. When you select a print option, the mouse cursor will disappear and you will not be able to page or do any other program action for a few seconds while the program formats the data and sends it to the printer. (This generally only happens when you select a graphic printing.) Soon a message box will appear with a "Printing..." message, and printing will begin. Depending on the size of the printer's buffer, yo may have to wait before resuming reading. The length of this wait will depend on how much there is to print. One-page jobs are shorter than whole-document dumps, and graphics printing takes longer than text-only. When printing is complete, the HPJ sends a "formfeed" code which will eject the last page printed.

If you should accidentally select the laser graphic option when you have a dot matrix or other non-laser printer, just turn off the printer. The printing data stream should "time out" after a while and return control to the program. If somehow you lose complete control, just power everything down and try again.


The next submenu lets you select from seven different color combinations for the text display. The normal or "default" text and background colors is Option 1, black text on a light cyan (a sort of blue-green) background. This provides a nice high-contrast color scheme that mimics paper documents, but avoids a bright white background, which would be too bright for a PC screen.

The other color combinations are all high-contrast combinations that have been used with many popular PC word-processing programs. Color is a highly personal issue--each of us reacts differently to different combinations, so the HPJ offers some options to the default display.

When you select a color scheme, the program redisplays the same page of the document you were reading in the new color scheme. One nice feature of the HPJ is that it remembers your current color scheme when you load in a new file, so that the first page of the new article will be displayed with the same colors used with the previous article. One word of caution is in order about changing colors: often the pictures in an HPJ document are designed to "blend in" with the cyan background, so rectangular "borders" may appear when you select a different color scheme. The borders are always there, of course, you just don't see them with the default color scheme.


The last option is the word/phrase search. This is not a submenu, but a "pop-up" input screen. (It will be shown on the next page.) This feature is one of the biggest advantages of a diskzine over hardcopy magazines. Say you're reading a long article and want to find all references to PC software. It would take a LONG time to skim through the magazine and mark each occurence of "PC software." But the computer can do this in a split-second, making such research actually pleasant!

To enter a word or a phrase you want to search for, either press the F2 key or click on the F2 icon below, then select Option 4 from the Reader Options Menu. The box shown on the right will appear. Like all sub- menus and input screens in the HPJ, it has instructions provided on the screen itself. Just type in the word or phrase you want to search for, then press ENTER. (You might want to press the HOME key first, to start your search from the beginning of the file.) You can correct mistakes while typing the word or phrase with the backspace key, or toggle insert and typeover modes with the insert key.

When you press ENTER the IR searches for the word or phrase, and takes you to the page where it first occurs. It finds the line containing the word or phrase occurs and "highlights" it in reverse colors, as if someone used a colored marker to highlight the line in a book. (The only difference is that this highlighting isn't permanent!)

Word/phrase searches are limited to 24 characters maximum, which is an arbitrary limit that should suffice for most searches. If you need to find larger strings, e.g., "antidisestablishmentarianism," just type in the first 24 characters and this should work just as well. Searches are case-sensitive--a search for "March" will not stop on every occurrence of "march." To repeat a search, all you have to to is use the handy "hot key." This is the ALT-S combination, which is activated by pressing the "s" key while holding down the ALT key.

The reader software for the HomeCraft Personal Journal was designed to be "user-friendly" and instinctive to use, but there is always room for improvement. If you have suggestions or comments, just drop us a line.

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