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/// Usenet Review: GPFax
    --------------------
    By Jun Akiyama
    (akiy@netcom.com)



PRODUCT NAME

        GPFax version 2.342, GENERIC version


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

        Send/Receive faxes with a faxmodem.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

        Company Name:   GPSoftware

        Authors:        Dr. Greg Perry, Richard Carde

        Address:        21 Aloomba Road
                        Ashgrove, Brisbane
                        QLD 4060
                        Australia

        Telephone:      +61 7 366 1402
        FAX:            +61 7 366 1402

        E-mail:         gregp@gpsoft.adsp.sub.org
                        rc@splat.aarnet.edu.au


LIST PRICE

        GPFax version 2.01 had a list price of $120 (US), but I was unable to
find the list price of any of the current versions.

        I paid $74.99 for my copy, although I know some mail order companies
will be lower.  You can sometimes obtain this software more cheaply when it
is bundled with a faxmodem.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS


        HARDWARE

                This version of the software requires a Group 3, Class
                2 TIA TR29.2 supporting faxmodem.

                At least 1 MB of RAM is required, but the manual says:
                "HIGHLY RECOMMEND a minimum of 1 MB of CHIP memory and
                at least 0.5 MB of FAST memory."

                A hard drive is not required, but the manual once
                again recommends a hard drive "for most efficient
                performance."  The program and supporting files on my
                hard drive take up about 230,000 bytes including its
                own font and printer driver.

                The program can be run on a 68000 CPU, but faster
                processors are recommended, especially for higher
                characters per second throughput on Workbench 1.3.

        SOFTWARE

                Workbench 1.3 or above is required.  It works fine
                even under Workbench 3.0.


COPY PROTECTION

        None.  Hard drive installable.


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING


        Amiga 4000/040
        2 MB Chip RAM, 4 MB Fast RAM
        Workbench 39.29, Kickstart 39.106
        SupraFaxModem v32.bis 14,400 baud


REVIEW

        There are two versions of the GPFax software: one for the Supra
modems, and another "generic" version for others.  Although I have a Supra
modem, I was able to purchase only the generic version, as my retailer
carried only that copy.  However, Dr. Perry has told me that for an
additional $25, one can cross-grade from the generic version to the Supra
version.  So, to save money, buy the correct version.  (The generic version
works fine on my SupraFaxModem; so until I get a large shipment of money in
sometime, I think I'll stick with it.  Supposedly, the Supra code is more
optimized for the Supra modem.  I'll followup if I cross-grade.)

        The first thing to check when you boot up your program the first
time is its version.  GP has released several versions in a relatively short
period of time, ranging from 2.01a, 2.01b, 2.30, 2.341, and 2.342.  I had
2.01a (2/5/92).  Don't fear; the patches are available on the Aminet ftp
sites, although one may have to apply more than one patch to get to the
current version (2.342).

        However, because of this upgrading fiasco, the included manual does
not list all of the features of the software.  For example, in order to use
the program on the Workbench, you need to enter "SCREEN=WORKBENCH" as a
tooltype in the GPFax icon.  Such information is included in some of the
updates but may be missing in others.  I basically downloaded all of the
patches and then read all of the documentation files to make sure I didn't
miss anything.  A more current, complete manual would be very welcome.

        Installation onto a hard drive is relatively simple; just double
click on the Install-GPFax icon on the included floppy, and Commodore's
Installer program will guide you through the process.  (Note: some of the
upgrades include "new" fonts and printer driver, which you may need to
install manually.  I do not know if these fonts and driver are actually any
different than the ones included with 2.01, but for safety's sake, I
installed them.)

        The drawer created will have the GPFax program, a ViewFax
program to view faxes without actually having to enter GPFax, a FAX_IN
drawer and FAX_OUT drawer (where Faxes are stored when they come in
and before they are sent out, respectively), a directory with some
ARexx examples, some configuration files, and some documentation
files.

        Once booted, the GPFax screen (or window, if you set that tooltype)
is shown.  The first thing you may notice is the lack of menus.  Everything
in GPFax is button/keyboard driven.  I suppose this is used as a
simplification device, but I found it slightly annoying in the beginning,
though I have since grown accustomed to it.

        The first time you run the program, you will need to set some
environment variables.  These variables include your company name,
your fax number, and your phone number, all of which will be printed
onto an optional cover sheet for each fax.  Also, you can set which
device you wish to use, how many rings before Auto Answer picks up the
phone, and the default font used for the Convert function (described
below).

        In addition to the above "Environment" section, there is an
"Options" section in which you can set other preferences such as Quiet Modem
(which deactivates your modem speaker), Make Icons for faxes, create a
Workbench Appicon (for drop-in faxing capabilities), and Use Security (which
allows you to screen faxes by their incoming ID number).

        There is, of course, a phonebook in which you can store your most
often dialed fax numbers.  Here, you can enter a Name, Number, a Comment,
and a Group field as well as cover page details for each entry.  The number
field can be marked with a "Man!" before the number itself if the fax
receiver must be notified to place their fax machine into receive mode
before sending the fax.  The Group field can group certain names into the
likes as "Customers" and "Vendors" to facilitate faxing a group of people.
The cover page details include your company name, the name of the person
sending the fax, your fax number, your voice number, the name of the company
to which the fax is addressed, the name of the person to whom the fax is
sent, a "header" IFF to place at the top of the cover page, and a
"signature" IFF to place at the bottom.

        In creating a fax, you have two choices:  create an ASCII text or
2-color IFF picture which is fed into the Convert program, or use a word
processing program or a desktop publishing whose output will be sent to the
faxing driver rather than the normal printer driver.  The former will use
the aforementioned font that was set in the Environment section to create a
fax of the text in that font, or just plainly use the two-color IFF
pixel-by-pixel.  This, of course, will not produce a very professional
looking fax.  The latter option, to use the fax printer driver, is much
better, producing a fax output of up to 210 dpi by 196 dpi.  This is much
simpler too, as all you need to do is create a document (for example, in
Pagestream), set the printer configuration to send to the preferences
printer, and print.  GPFax will intercept the file and send it to its
Fax_Out drawer, converting it into a FAX format on the fly.

        Before sending the fax, you can view it on the screen using
the Display command.  You can set the resolution of this screen within
the Options sections; I use a Super72 Super Hires Laced screen.  Here,
you can specify if you wish to view at a 1:1, 1:2, or 1:4 ratio.  (The
1:1 shows about 10% of the page, 1:2 shows about 60%, and 1:4 shows
the entire page for me.)  You also have the option of printing the fax
if you wish for a hard copy before sending it.

        In order actually to send a fax, all you have to do is select which
fax pages you wish to send, choose the phone number to which you wish them
sent, either enter a number or choose an entry from the phone book, and
you're done.  The fax is sent!

        You can also Schedule your faxes to be sent at a specific time, in
case you wish to save money by faxing after 11pm, or perhaps during your
lunch hour.  GPFax will even reschedule your transmission until a later
time, if it attempts the fax but find a busy number.

        In order to receive a fax, you can either set the Auto Answer mode on
within the Options section, or manually Receive a fax.  Either way, the fax
will be downloaded into the Fax_In drawer, which you can Display (as
explained above) or Print to your preference printer.  If you wish, the
program will convert the fax into an IFF file.

        GPFax also includes an ARexx capability to, as the manual states,
"allow almost complete remote control of the program from an ARexx script."
I, being no ARexx guru, have not used the ARexx capabilities at all.  Ich
kann nichts sagen.  Es tut mir leid.


DOCUMENTATION

        The manual included with the original disk was created for version
2.01.  The upgrades on Aminet also have additional information regarding the
upgraded versions.

        The documentation is mediocre.  Because of the upgrading, I found
some discrepancies between the illustrations in the manual and the real
screens in the program.  However, the manual is followable, and the program
is really pretty simple to use, luckily.

        As I mentioned above, the documentation included with the upgrades
could be better.  For example, the documentation for the generic version also
included a lot of information regarding the Supra version.  Why is it in
there?  It's not needed.


LIKES AND DISLIKES

        I found GPFax to be pretty easy to use.  The no-menu interface
annoyed me at first, but I have grown accustomed to it now.  The quality of
faxes it sends and receives is good.

        There are a few things I do not like, though.  GPFax, whenever it
receives a fax or intercepts a printing file to create a fax, uses a pretty
cryptic naming convention to name the faxes.  Although this can be slightly
modified using a "Popup" print menu to assign another name to these fax
files, the fact that the program appends an ever-increasing number (starting
from 002 and working its way up) to the end of that file name on each and
every file.  I keep finding my self renaming each fax as it is created in
order to keep track of which fax is which.  A more intuitive fax naming
convention could have been used here.


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

        When I first got my faxmodem, I tried out the "elcheapofax" public
domain program.  I found it to be quite cryptic, and now find GPFax to be a
pretty good buy.


BUGS

        I haven't found any bugs per se, but have encountered a problem in
creating files by having the program intercept the file being printed.
Although most programs can route their output to the printer chosen in
the Workbench Preferences, some programs are unable to do this.  I could not
get Word Perfect to output directly to GPFax, and had to resort to
Pagestream to use this capability.  (Of course, Pagestream presents a MUCH
better output than Word Perfect, so I shouldn't complain....)

        In addition, one of the upgrade documentation mentions a problem
when using Final Copy I and II.  It states that "this has been an ongoing
problem for a several [sic] months now and we have been getting a number of
irate users of GPFax complaining bitterly to us.  After considerable
analysis of this problem, we found that Final Copy II (Release 1 sep 26.92)
was the culprit."  The note concludes, "Enough! If you are one of the people
who suffer from this problem, COMPLAIN TO SOFTWOOD not us!!  After discussing
this problem with Softwood, they have kindly offered to upgrade users of
earlier version [sic] of Final Copy II to the later version which has been
rewritten to work correctly."

        As aforementioned, don't forget to get the GPfax patches from Aminet
(under biz/patches) if you get a version older than 2.342.


VENDOR SUPPORT

        I sent E-mail to Dr. Greg Perry regarding the possibility of
cross-grading from the generic version to the Supra version, and he replied
with a note saying $25 and the original disk will allow me to upgrade.  I
personally find that amount to be expensive and will reconsider whether or
not to cross-grade.

        I am not associated with the vendor in any way except as a customer,
unless I have some psychic link with them I don't know. :-)


WARRANTY

        There's a 90 day warranty on the supplied disk which must be
accompanied by a proof of purchase, and applies only to the original
purchaser.


CONCLUSIONS

        On a scale from one to ten ducks (one duck being the equivalent to
"Pond Scum," and ten ducks garnering a "Totally ducky!"  description), I
give GPfax eight and a half (ouch) ducks.

        My final impressions are that I'm quite happy I got the program, and
I hope they'll continue to provide upgrades available through Aminet.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE

        I hereby relinquish the copyrights to this review to Daniel
Barrett, as he is such a cool guy and posts funny articles to Usenet.
Whatever he wishes to do with my inane words, he is free to do so.  So
nyaah.


BLAZEMONGER NOTICE

        For you BLAZEMONGER II players out there, this review, in its
entirety (including the headers), is the secret password jump from
level 323,832,123.021 to 763,334,292.8A0. Just type it in during the
digitized sample of Dave Haynie screaming "MEGA1-RAMMM-SEEYYYYYYY!!!",
and you're there.  Wow.  How did the BLAZEMONGER programmers know?
(And when did Mr. Haynie say that?)



                      ------------------------------



        Here's a small followup to my previous GPFax review.

        I just received E-mail from Dr. Greg Perry of GP Software thanking
me for writing the review.  This, I would like to say, is a good aspect of
customer support.

        Dr. Perry also stated the following:

                "You may like to know that we are now shipping [the GPFax]
                 product with [a] completely re-written manual with all
                 upgrade[s] included."

        I'm sure you can contact Dr. Perry for further details on receiving
an updated manual somehow.