ESAG Newsletter 1997-1

This is the first Newsletter of year 1997!

      Elite Shareware Authors Group      
              Issue: 1-97                
             By: Po-Han Lin              

Table of Contents:

(1) News off the press
(2) Changes to ESAG
(3) Trends
(4) Where to upload shareware
(5) Credit Cards
(6) Tips and Tricks!!
(7) Tips from our members (That's you!)
(8) Be heard!

Section 1)  News off the press

o Highlights...

 ESAG was selected Wave of the Day! for 1-25-97.
 Check it out at...

 In case you haven't heard, ESAG's domain name
 is now

o New interactive forums...

 The ESAG Shareware Group (sort of like a newsgroup)
has been formed for shareware discussions.  Use it to
announce your company and exciting products to each other
and the public.  Each ESAG member should do this (that means
you!)  First come first served.  If you are at the top,
people who read through it are exposed to your products
first.  They can also follow up and ask questions.  This
recently added newsgroup will be the future playground
of shareware discussions, product announcements (hint),
programming discussions, tips and tricks, membership
issues, etc.

Section 2) Changes to ESAG

 ESAG has now been changed to accomodate the new technologies
of the future.  This newsletter will now be distributed via
email, so the hardcopy will be discontinued.  In addition,
the diskette material will be merged into the web site, so
as to meet demands of this brave new world.  The copyright
material can be searched though the links at

 Since it might get hard finding people that might want to 
chat at the same time with you,  I've set up a schedule for 
members to "meet."  Visit the chat area located at...

at 9PM PST and at 9PM GMT.  Say something first, or others
will think no one is there.

 I also need contributors for the "awards" page.  If you have
a shareware product that has won awards, tell me about it!

 A new web based voting scheme will be in place "soon."  
So things will be on hold for a while.

Section 3) Trends

 Here are a few trends that will help you in your future
decisions concerning shareware...

 First of all, BBS is out.  Web is in.  In the past, people
used to dial into BBS's to get shareware, have discussions, 
and play simple games, etc.  But they are a dying breed.
The new web technologies are making them obsolete.  
Discussion forums (like the one recently added to ESAG) 
offers a simpler way to communicate, than through text menus 
of BBS's.  Ftp is more convenient through the browser (just 
drop your file into the browser and it gets uploaded, drag
on it and it gets downloaded).  Even games are more "fun" 
when thousands can reach the same point via tcp/ip.  People
are getting their shareware through the net, not through 
BBS's.  It would be a duplication of effort to upload your 
shareware to BBS's.  Most of them just distribute archives
of and anyways.  Why pay money 
for this service?

 Another trend is that of the market.  Windows 95, the
biggest market for shareware now, is going to be merged 
with NT workstation within 2 years.  This means the Win32
API is going to be important.  ActiveX (simply the OLE
part of the Win32 API) may interest you as well if you 
want to hook up with the internet.  If you are interested
in getting started in Win32 API programming, here are a
few good books...

"Teach yourself Windows 95 Programming in 21 days." 2nd ed.
   By: Charles Calvert.  Sams Publishing.  ISBN:0-672-30531-3

"Programming Windows 95"
   By: Charles Petzold.  Microsoft Press.  ISBN:1-55615-676-6

If you know C++, you can use the MFC (Microsoft Foundation
Classes) to program Windows 95.  These classes simply hook
into the Win32 API, and saves you a lot of time coding.  A
good book..

"Programming Windows 95 with MFC"
   By: Jeff Prosise.  Microsoft Press.  ISBN:1-55615-902-1

These books require that you have a C/C++ compiler.  You
should get Microsoft Visual C++ 4.0, which has the MFC
included.  Those of you who think windows programming is 
hard... try this code...

  int WINAPI WinMain(HINSTANCE hInst,
                     HINSTANCE hPrevInstance,
                     LPSTR lpszCmdParam, int nCmdShow)
    MessageBox(0,"Elite Shareware Authors Group",
    return 0;

Section 4) Where to upload shareware

 Some of you may be wondering... Where can I upload all
my shareware?  Well,  concentrate on the archives.  After
that, go after the distributors.  A thing to remember
though, is that most distributors get them from the archives
anyway.  Therefore, concentrate on putting your products
in all the major archives...

Coast to Coast
CSU Windows World
File Pile

The uploading process usually involves editing a file
with information about your shareware.  Make sure you
edit this file according to the format that they want.
Once you get your file in, the archives have mirrors 
all over the world, so this should save you lots on
time spend uploading.  It usually takes a few days for
them to process your upload.  Be patient.

AFTER you have uploaded your file to an archive, contact
as many distributors as possible.  Give them the link to
your shareware located in the archive.  The more sites you
contact, the better.  One of the famous ones is

For a point and click page of the above archive list, point
your browser to

Section 5) Credit Cards and Registration

Would you like the ability to allow customers who use
your shareware products to be able to register and pay for
them using a credit card number?  Well you can!
Here are two approaches.

First, you can go to your local bank and apply for 
a credit card terminal.  Or you can look around for
cheaper rates in other states.  Ask around.  Note that
credit cards charge between 2 and 8 percent of the
sales price just for using them.  So be prepared.
Discover Card charges the least, while Visa and Mastercard
are the next highest.  American Express charges the most
per transaction.

Second, you can ask people who already have a credit card
terminal payment system set up to process credit card
transactions for you.  They usually take a cut (a few
percentage points ) right off the top of your shareware price
though (this is in addition of the 2 to 8 percent given
to the credit card companies.  For a listing of some
companies that offer this service visit...

Section 6) Tips and Tricks

Tip:  Visit
      and get an animated gif editor called the GIF 
      Construction Set.  Fellow ESAG member Arjen van Andel
      of Hasoft has a really nice site that utilizes some
      very original animated gif's.  Look for his link at...

Tip: If you need help with C++, look at...
     This site offers FREE help.  Nice resource you can
     utilize for your benefit.

        Learn to modify the system registry to make
        Windows 95 perform undocumented features.

Trick:  This has NEVER been published, and was discovered
        by myself.  In Windows 3.1, open up a windows with 
        a lot of icons.  Look at the top row of icons.
        Point your mouse cursor at the small space between 
        an icon and the window container.  Click on that 
        space, and without letting go, drag your arrow up
        until it points at the window container.  Now let go.
        The icon now sticks to your cursor!

Have a trick or tip you like published in the ESAG 
newsletter?  Go to the Shareware Group page located
at or email me privately
by visiting

Section 7) Some words, history, and TIPS from our members.

1) Describe your company
2) Describe your products
3) What platforms does your products run on?
4) What future platforms are you considering programming on?
5) What kind of audience do you target?
6) How did you get started in programming?
7) What talent do you think you have that makes you stand out?
8) What TIPS would you like to share with other ESAG members?
9) What future products can we expect?

AMF Software

1. AMF was started in 1992 with its first Word for Windows
products, and from it is initial success, a full product line 
for Word and for Windows developed.  After several great
magazine reviews of AMF products, AMF really took off. Soon
after, AMF joined the Association of Shareware Professionals,
and began fully developing its product line to its current state.

2. Two products are the main sellers: Wordware 96 and AMF 
Daily Planner & PIM v6.1

3. Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 are the currently supported platforms.

4. No other platforms are planned for at this time.

5. Business users as well as home users are the target
audience. AMF's product line is perfect for the whole family 
as well as the serious business person.

6. In 1992, I picked up WordBasic, a language included with
Word for Windows. I was intrigued by the control over the 
computer that was attainable by simply telling it what to do. 
From that point on, it was a pleasure to program so Visual
Basic came next. After a few weeks teaching myself the
language, I was ready to write my first application. I've 
been using VB since version 3.0 and it keeps getting better. 
Programming for me is not only fun, but as the shareware
industry knows, a business as well.

7. My unique talent is my ability to make a great looking 
product, documentation and user interface. Usability is a 
key factor in all of my products.

8. Distribution is the key to success as well as timely 
support and an openness to suggestions.

9. Currently in the works are several small utilities and 
a full-fledged Party Planner type application.

Andrew M. Freeman, 
writing on Saturday, October 19, 1996
Check Out Our Web Page:
AMF's Headquarters on CompuServe: GO WINPROD

The Limit Software

1.  The Limit Software was started by myself in 1994, when 
I released the original version of Lock-Out.  It's now much 
larger, and we are planning on releasing our second product 
shortly.  Lock-Out has undergone over 4 revisions, each being 
spaced 6-12 months apart.  More information can be found at

2.  Lock-Out, our security program.  It's currently in
version 2.7 and is doing quite well.  Unlike other programs 
that are just thrown together, it's polished and offers many 
features that users want and/or need.  More information can
be found at

3.  Windows 95, Windows 3.1 and DOS. 

4.  Not at this time, unless Microsoft drastically changes 
to Windows 97 (I.E. 4.0).  We might work on some NT products 
in the near future.

5.  Small business owners, possibly large business owners, and 
personal users.

6.  I started shareware programming in 1994 when Lock-Out was 
first released.  Looking back at 1.0, and now glancing at
2.7, I see how I have learned a lot over these couple of
years.  The feeling of accomplishment is evident with each new revision.

7.  I always pride myself on strong customer support.
That's what separates shareware authors from retail ones.  You get 
personal one-on-one attention with the author, and 
not some hired technical support person (who may not even know the 
product).  I always try to reply to e-mail's the
same day, and usually get it within 4 hours.

8.  Please do NOT cripple your programs.  When I try 
shareware, if it's severely crippled, I throw it away and 
find something else.  I really support the ASP on this.

9.  Password Memorizer ( is 
our next
big product.  Info can be found at the web page above.


Tim Hayes
The Limit Software
America Online - Keyword: THELIMIT


A casual interview with Hasoft... :)


1) A brief history of your shareware company

  Hasoft started out, as a hobby, in August 1983,
developing hard- and software systems for time- and
cost-accounting, with data obtained by tachographs and
electronic data recording devices, for the international
mass transport and mass transit industry. This led to the
founding of Hasoft on April 1st 1985 (I really aimed for
that date).

  Arjen van Andel, Hasoft's owner, has 13 years commercial
expertise in C and Assembly on PC's, their Hardware and
DOS. From DOS/BIOS interrupt programming to administrative
software design. Extensive knowledge of electronics,
photography, manufacturing ferro/non-ferro components and
machines, combustion engines.

2) A brief history of you and your relationship with shareware

  I was born in 1952, went to Technical school, worked
about five years in the maintainance department of a big
company, after two years in-house training.  That company
went under, and I became a metal turner/miller (mostly
one-off products) and toolmaker, which I did for about
eleven years.  Early in the seventies I started teaching
myself electronics,  which resulted, at the end of the 
seventies, in building my own computer, a Heathkit H89.
After 1992 I became less involved with the tachograph business, and 
decided to make the step to shareware, and
write a tool that I always needed, but never found: a file
manager that would work the way I needed/wanted. That's the
only product that I market as shareware, sofar. It's called 
File_Handle (a programmers pun) and it can be downloaded
from my website for a free trial period.

3) tips you would like to give to other ESAG members

...ehhh, make long hours, and if that doesn't work, try 
working more. 

4) Your artistic talents.  What tools you use, how you got
interested in it, where you came up with the idea of the 
"florecent bulb" graphic, how long you have been doing 
graphics, etc.

  I'm really not 'doing' graphics. But my mother has
a degree in art, one brother sometimes does layout work 
for a book publisher and my sister empties her air-brushes
on Harley Davisons and the like. Maybe that helps.

  I used to be quite involved in photography, see my "Garage"
page. The images were scanned by a friend, but they came out 
very dark, so the quality is not that good; I had to enhance 
them too much. When I find a better scanner I'll do
them again.

  Parts of the pages were created by Paul Wiegers, who needed 
the exercise.  He worked from my first drafts. He designed
the rectangle buttons for "Home Page", "Yellow Page", 
"E-Mail" etc. with Photoshop. Paul also did the crude version
for the blue background. His design originally was a pattern 
of radiating blue lines, which I later ran through a mosaic
filter, in JASC's Paintshop Pro, if I remember correctly. 
The Hasoft logo I cutted from the letterhead design that I
did in CorelDraw, a few years ago. I added the blue color 
and the highlights which make it look a bit like a metal
plate. The flaky effect is really an accident. I tried some 
schemes in CorelDraw, and it just came out like it now shows
on my site. I actually had to get it back from my website
when I found that I couldn't reproduce the effect, and I had
already overwritten the original.

  As for the fluorescent tubing, Paul found a cilindrical 
horizontal rule with rounded edges one of those websites that
specialize in images. After he showed me the first results it
struck me that they looked like neon lights and asked Paul to
make them blink irratically a few times, like like neon with 
a bad starter. One package that can do this is Gifcon
( Gifcon allows 
one to put a number of GIF images in a single GIF file,
while controlling the on-screen time of each separate image.

  A problem with 'animated' GIF's on a website is that the
image has to completely loaded before the animation can work. 
That fact limits what can be achieved. Look at the Hasoft 
logo; the accumulated size is about 32k, and the logo won't 
flash until all images in the sequence are transferred to the
visitor's computer. Also, the first image in the sequence has
to be switched on, or else it would remain switched off in 
browsers not supporting animation. (I played with the idea
to install an image of a power switch, linked to the download
site for Netscape, and then leave the lights off). By the 
way, the Hasoft logo imposed an unexpected problem. Turning 
the logo's 'lights' off in a realistic manner, would make all
used shades of blue a darker blue; making the image gray
looked awkward. Most of the palet is now used to store the 
many blue shades; since the logo's flaky effect already
needed substantial blue color 'bandwidth'.

  Since I wanted the lights to blink out of sync, that
meant creating two separate GIF's (four actually, I needed 
thin tubes too, but decided to let the browser scale them
down (not all browsers will, though)), what, of course
results in longer download times. The best way to look at 
the animation would be to reload the pages from the
browser's cache, or save them on local harddisk
first. The metal contacts on the ends of the tubes were 
glued on much later.  

  The background for the Yellow pages is derived from the 
blue background by playing with a few filters and a 45 
degree rotation of the image.


Section 8) Be heard!

 Want to be included in the next newsletter?  I will include
another three in the next newsletter.  If you are interested,
answer the following questions...

1) Describe your company
2) Describe your products
3) What platforms does your products run on?
4) What kind of audience do you target?
5) How did you get started in programming?
6) What talent do you think you have that makes you stand       out?
7) What tips would you like to share with other ESAG members?
8) What future products can we expect?

 Do you want to get more exposure to your shareware?  Do
you want to be heard?  Do you have advice, tips, or
tricks that you want fellow members to know about?  Do
you have products that you have that you want others
to know about?  Then point your browser at

Click on the Shareware Group if you want to communicate
with members and the shareware community.

Click on chat if you want to talk with other live.
  (If no one is there, wait until 9PM PST or 9PM GMT)

Or contact me at

So, be heard! If you have a service you can offer, do put 
it up and you may be included in the next newsletter!
I'm also asking for contributions for the next newsletter.
Do you an article you would like to contribute?


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