Archive booklets review part twoBy Chris Williams. Published: 17th Dec 2005, 05:29:30 | Permalink | Printable
Internet searching, eBay and StrongEDHot on the heels of their first collection of four booklet titles, Archive magazine have published a further three compilations: Internet searching, and StrongED Volumes 1 and 2. Each are made up of 48 A5 stapled pages of articles and hints'n'tips previously published in the long running monthly magazine.
With the web becoming so vast and expanding at an astonishing rate, our reliance on Internet search engines is approaching near total dependence. To master using the likes of Google will likely unlock a great deal more online content for the user and also help cut through the electronic jungle of nonsense out there. While employers nose through job candidates' websites, usenet posts and blogged opinions with the help of search engines, impish hackers are now using Google's data mining expertise to uncover sensitive and personal information that ought to be better protected. The topic of search engines and how, despite Google's dominance, users can call on a range of webcrawlers to assist them is pretty important in today's world wild web. It's interesting therefore that Archive, a primary bastion of RISC OS-centric information, has put together a booklet covering it.
Initially focusing on search giant Google with a series of pieces written by Paul Beverley for the Society of Editors and Proofreaders, the mini-tome steps through a number of good basic principles for getting the most of the global search engine. These include using site:, intitle: and fine tuning keywords. The booklet then moves onto using Google's many features from its units converter to completing common quotations. There is some overlap here with a couple of articles written by Barry Smith for Archive's sister publication, Living with technology, that follow on from Paul's contributions. Barry's work is, however, accompanied by screenshots and illustrations showing where to click on the Google website to launch searches and how to find all the mildly hidden and ever growing number of features. As well as a few hints and tips, the booklet also describes a few RISC OS utilities such as RiscSearch and Searchy, which both act as user-friendly desktop interfaces to various Internet search engines. The guide finishes on a surprise treat: an introduction to using online auction house eBay to which should act as a helping hand for anyone new to the website. It covers searching and locating items, bidding on auctions and general do's and don't's.
'StrongED volumes 1 and 2'
These two booklets concentrate on StrongED, a popular and powerful text and source code editor used by writers and programmers alike. Compiled from articles, hints'n'tips and recipes written by a broad range of writers, the guide thankfully skips over the religious debate between StrongED and its rival editor, Zap. Instead, the booklet presents a masterclass in the freeware application package originally developed by Guttorm Vik and later inherited by a number of other programmers. The text editor is a personal favourite of Archive editor Paul Beverley.
Volume 1 begins with a gentle introduction to the software and how to immediately get to grips with its basic features, modes and macros. It then progresses onto performing search and replace operations on text, customising StrongED, and documents a few interesting tricks such as using it as an address book. The guide also includes some editorial arguing on behalf of the StrongED community in order to present a robust justification on why people should use the text editor over its rivals whilst highlighting the software's key features - syntax highlighting, powerful search and replace, macro support, integration with StrongHelp and more. Never again will a StrongED user be caught out when drawn into a text editor war of words with a Zap user.
Volume 2 steps up the pace and launches straight into a tutorial on writing scripts that allow StrongED to process text files dragged onto it, thus enabling the user to automate operations such as search and replace. The guide then moves onto step-by-step instructions on how to write in various languages, such as DrawScript and HTML; how to customise the document toolbar; and how to use the software's spellchecker. These are interspersed with a myriad of brief advice pieces that cover many aspects of StrongED, from obscure mouse and keyboard shortcuts to tidying up files using search and replace.
It's also worth noting that out of all Archive compilations, the StrongED books have a date stamp by each article title, rather than an opaque issue and volume number, to show when a particular article first appeared in print. The contents page shows the republished text spans some nine years, from around mid-1997 to a piece scheduled to be published in early 2006. The two volumes follow on from each other in a seamless manner, although like other Archive titles, the content isn't fully indexed so the reader may be thwarted if she needs to locate some information quickly and can't quite remember where a particular hint'n'tip article is printed in the series.
Each booklet costs a fiver, and the series continues to tap into Archive magazine's wealth of features and content, harvested over the many years the seasoned publication has been informing the RISC OS using public.
Archive magazine website
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