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CSAReview: WordSmith 1.02 And Com-mentor 1.3
Esa Haapaniemi firstname.lastname@example.org
WordSmith 1.02 and Com-mentor 1.3.
Finnish-English-Finnish wordbook and commodity for clipboard
translations. There is an educational learning game included.
All documentation and button text are currently written in Finnish, but
an update is planned to correct this.
Name: StoneWare SoftWorks
Address: Arsi Koutaniemi OR Marko Ollila
Tellervonpolku 7 Elosalamantie 2 C 27
11120 Riihimdki 02100 Espoo
E-mail: Arsi@bitfield.fi OR email@example.com
World Wide Web: Promised to be ready "soon" but I don't know the address
The price was 300 Fmk. (Finnish marks) that is approximately some $75
(US). But when compared to normal price difference between countries it
will be much nearer $30 (US).
Additional vocabularies for other languages are promised with 100 Fmk.
Extra word translations should be found freely from the coming WWW page.
None that I know.
SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
1 M memory and 3 M of hard disk space should be enough. If the words
are unpacked, 5 M of hard disk space is needed.
The program should work with base 68000 too, and because of the special
packing library it is faster if the packed versions of the words are
No graphics card nor FPU are needed nor especially supported.
There is still a benefit of having fast prosessor and more than 2 M of
Version 2.0 of AmigaDOS at least is needed. Works with 3.0 and 3.1.
The program uses StoneCracker library (stc.library) for packed data and
that library is included with the package for 68020+ and 68000
The program comes on 3 DD FFS formatted Amiga disks. The Commodore (RIP)
Installer is included with a paper sheet of cryptic letters and numbers
(4420 of them) of which one is asked when the program is installed on HD.
After that the sheet can be stored as long as the program is not moved or
reinstalled. The program can not be used from the disks.
The numbers on the sheet are printed on red paper and the numbers are
really tiny (fontsize is some 6 or smaller). Some people might have
problems in reading those and they are almost impossible to photocopy
with cheap machines.
The disks are standard FFS format and can be backed up for safety.
The Installer script writes something on the first disk after checking
the correct code.
After installing, the copy protection is completely invisible.
MACHINE USED FOR TESTING
Amiga A1200 with 50 MHz 030, 8 MB Fast RAM, 2 MB Chip RAM
1 internal Chinon HD floppy and internal 3.5" 350MB IDE HD.
Commodore A1084 monitor (for video work)
The KickStart version is 39.106 and WorkBench 40.42.
Toolmanager 2.1, SClock 1.72, YAK 1.58, Blanker and DCoMMB loaded
Amiga A2000 (model B) w. 25 MHz 030, 8 MB Fast and 1 MB Chip RAM
1.6 GB HD (3 different SCSI disks)
Retina Zorro II graphics card and Idek 15 ' MF-II multisync
KickStart version 40.63 and WorkBench version 40.42 on 3.1 ROM.
...2.5x SONY CD-ROM, QIC 150 MB tape backup system...
I did all the testing on Amiga A1200 and only after finding some special
bug or feature I changed to Amiga A2000.
The program is equipped with Commodore Installer. The installation is
easy and all of the program is uncompressed inside one directory and
wordlists on separate directories inside the main directory. The config
file is copied to S: and library into LIBS:.
The vocabularies are arranged in subvocabularies including anatomic,
botanical, zoological, and computer words. They can be used all at the
same time or separately. The slang vocabulary is included as well and it
can be protected with a password. All new special words that are not
included in these large databases can be added by the user into several
new own vocabularies.
The installation script gives information on the needed diskspace and
tests the prosessor (for unpacking library). The words can be kept
packed or unpacked on the HD.
When the unpacking is done the installation script asks to input one of
the 8 letters cryptic code from the included sheet. There are 4420
different codes on the sheet with really small letters and if the code is
miswritten, the same code is asked again.
When the code is given the installer asks to insert the original
unprotected disk and writes something on it. I did not find any problems
reinstalling the program after this (I did want to test the program with
This is something that the Amiga should have had for a long time before.
The promised Swedish-German-English vocabularies with cross translations
to each other add even more to this program's usefulness.
I did start the program on the first time without looking at the
Amigaguide document file at all. The interface that I saw was rather
unprofessional looking, as it was opened on LowRes screen as default and
I had everything else on PAL HighRes_InterLace screen. The display could
be changed, but there was no testing mode, everything must be either
saved or cancelled directly. I did unluckily pick DBLNTSC: High Res No
Flicker, saved it and after that did not see anything useful on my 1084
Fortunately the WorkBench was still open, and after getting my monitor to
sync to that signal I could slide the WorkBench down and reset the
WordSmith screen to something more usable on this monitor.
I can say about the interface that it is clumsy. There are no menus
available and everything is handled from buttons that open new windows on
top of the main window. No changes (except the screenmode) are used
before they are saved and all of the texts on buttons are in Finnish.
Only toggleable button is the button for translation direction (either
English > Finnish or Finnish > English) and only target that takes some
other input than the left mousebutton is the input field for words. The
text in the input field is rather long and it must be cleared completely
(SHIFT-DEL) before it can be used.
The program knows some really difficult technical terms that were not
available on previously used commercial PC program ("Amiga" was
translated to a C= made computer :-)).
I had to try quite a long time before I found words that were not on the
list. My special words for Chemistry are not so well included. BUT
simple ones like Asetone, Saccharose, Paraffin, ... are.
The vocabularies are really large and the separation of the words into
several categories is really useful. And the vocabulary includes really
a lot of "dirty" slang words too! Fortunately they can be cut out from
the Ahjo educational game and the main program with an owner-specifiable
For those words that are not included there is a window for starting
one's own custom vocabularies that can be used like any other category on
Ahjo and on the main program. Only one custom wordlist can be used at a
The custom word window has checking option for words that are already in
other vocabularies, but unfortunately that stops working as soon as any
new word is added. That problem was not corrected on the new version I
There are some annoying parts in the main interface including the already
mentioned one mouse button working. Other things like internal
single-tasking (the main program stops working until all other windows
are closed on WordSmith), error messages at the other end of the window
as searched and found words, confusing mixed button types and alike make
this all seem like it was only some quick interface test. Version 2 is
promised to be much more professional. Current upgrades are concentrated
only on found bugs that prevent the use of the program.
Ahjo, the educational game, is a new kind of interface window on
WordSmith. It has options on choosing the category (all words or slang,
custom, computers, botanical, ...) and time to think, a small requester
to put the gamer's name for the highscore list, and big buttons for
starting, quitting. The question and input requesters are sometimes too
short to see all of the words.
This part of the program can be used currently only on Finnish>English
learning. But if there are self-made vocabularies on any language, they
can be tested as well.
Only once did I get the previous version of the WordSmith to collapse.
It happeded when I chose an unknown word to be printed and iconified the
program immediately after that. That bug was not repeatable...
Outside the main WordSmith program there is a commodity, Com-mentor. It
is a small (27 K) and quick way to make translation of words. It does
not include joker mark on search as the WordSmith does. It still does
translations to both directions and fast (on 50 MHz 030 !!!).
Com-mentor opens with a hotkey to a simple unresizable window on the
Workbench and includes only one input field and larger output field that
can be scrolled if there are more than ten answers. The size and opening
position for the program can be changed with another configuration window
that can be opened with another hotkey.
All words from the Com-mentor can be copied to the clipboard just by
pointing them with a mouse and activating. Even though all the words are
represented in capital letters they are read as small letter words to the
Clipboard. At the same time all the chosen words are changed to small
letters on the Com-mentor preview.
Another "problem" is that the words are sometimes misleading. There is
no separation between British-English or American-English way of writing
the words and many words have more slang meanings than actual
Perhaps the worst problem with this is that all of the manuals (only
Amigaguide file) and button texts are written in Finnish (correction
So currently this is only useful for Finnish speaking people who want to
make quick translations Finnish<>English. As it has large vocabulary and
there are promises for other languages (including German<>English this
can become really something useful!
I was somewhat amazed to see that the only things in the envelope were
three disks and a red leaflet with thousands of codes on both sides.
There was not even any Readme_First file on the disks.
Currently the only documentation is an Amigaguide document in Finnish.
And even that is very simple, more like an advertisement for the
programmers and their "skills."
Fortunately when I did contact one of the authors and sent him a list of
all the problems he "documented" them back to me, and told to me that
they were mainly corrected already.
I got a new version of the program and a short README file too, but again
no other documents.
Still this kind of program should be self explanatory and documents are
somewhat enough and the program can be used even without.
- Com-mentor is a really fast and small commodity. And the clipboard
working directly with just pointing the wanted word is an extra plus.
- Ahjo, the educational game, could be some fun and useful without the
- Really large vocabulary (much bigger than commercial PC/Windows and
Macintosh programs I have seen before).
- Program is made here, I'll support national programmers !-)
- Promised other languages (German<>Swedish<>English<>Finnish) will
DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS
- Everything is in Finnish (except one uninformative text in Ahjo).
- Several words are still not completely correct. A lot of long
words (for example "binary numbering system") are translated with
only two words or even with shortenings (exclusive OR = XOR).
- Somehow resembles windows programs (unexplainable unrepeatable
bugs)... That does not prevent the use, it is only annoying.
- Too Macintosh like (one button, no menus).
All of the found "problems" should be corrected with version 2.
COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS
I have shortly used one Windows program and one Macintosh version.
The Windows version had translations German<>Finnish and Swedish<>Finnish
included with the English<>Finnish but no German<>Swedish<>English. The
program was really slow on 75 MHz Pentium w. 8 M RAM and Win 3.1. And
as the program was "only" 5 HD disks and took some 8 M of hard disk
space, it did not include even nearly as many words as WordSmith.
The Macintosh program was an old one and included only the
English<>Finnish translation. As it was made to fit on single DD disk,
it really did not shine at all. Still the interface was somewhat similar
with this Amiga version except that all of the buttons were in English.
And no clipboard was directly supported nor any extra educational game.
I'll write this only as a list as all of them should be corrected before
this is published. Most of the bugs in the original 1.1 version were
already corrected on this current version and only the following were
- Custom words can not be written easily, as even the latest version
forgets the checking of new words as soon as one new is inserted.
- Too small requesters, some words are longer than the window for them
- Several words are still "wrong"
I did tell them about the bugs I found and after some days I received a
mail telling me that most of them are already corrected. I got the
upgrade as soon as I specially asked for it.
I feel a kind of like a gamma tester !-) But I am not connected to the
authors in any other way than that I am their customer.
There is no warranty that I know. Even the installer script was told to
be AS IS and there are no promises to pay for any possible harm made by
Still I have found no bugs that could destroy anything, as the data is
only read from hard disk and there are no writes done (except when
When the author gets all of the annoying bugs out from the programs and
makes interface and documents in English/other languages this is much
more than it's cheapness (only ~30 US$) and does beat similar (same
price) programs in the Windows world easily.
When the new languages (Germany<>Swedish<>English<>Finnish) become
available there surely is use for others than Finnish and/OR those who
want to learn Finnish.
Current version could be claimed to be as hackers test of programming
skills on any interface (not Amiga specially). Only the large vocabulary
is something special.
There is no copywright nor any copy protection on this file !-) Write
"Delete" to get rid of this annoying review ;)
University of Oulu
Department of Chemistry