Investing in DIY Software

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Nothing in the astrological world is more fun than being able to cast accurate charts for anyone at a moment's notice. Astrological do-it-yourself software is endlessly diverting. It enables you to calculate natal charts, compare charts, determine how the planets may affect you in the future, and, in short, entertain yourself for hours. Software isn't cheap, but if you decide it's worth the expense, the following sections give you a few recommendations.

Maximizing the Mac

If you use a Macintosh (as I do, and I'm not backing down), you have only two choices:

i Io Programs: Time Cycles Research Programs offers a wide selection of software which includes the following:

• Io Edition, their core program, which does all manner of calculations but offers no analysis.

• Io Interpreter, which provides interpretations and creates written reports. It's available with a choice of modules, including Io Horoscope, the basic interpretation program; Io Child, which analyzes children; Io Relationship, which compares horoscopes; Io Forecast, which tells you what the future may hold; and Io Body and Soul, which suggests, among other things, what vitamins you ought to take.

• Io Detective, which allows you to research all kinds of cosmic phenomenon in the charts of thousands of famous people.

• Io Midnight Ephemeris, which provides a full ephemeris page for every month between January 1850 and December 2049.

Io programs cater to professionals. I've been using them for years, but they're expensive (about $200 each) and complicated. Reach the people at Time Cycles by phone at (800) 827-2240 or (860) 444-6641, by e-mail at [email protected], or on the Web at www.timecycles.com.

^ TimePassages: Astrograph Software designed this software as a universal starting point, appropriate for both beginners and professionals, and Mac advocates and PC fanatics. The top-of-the-line program, with a myriad of astrological functions you can play with, costs about the same as a single Io program, while the basic edition, which provides natal charts, compatibility charts, and two ways of forecasting the future, runs about $50. The savings are considerable.

This program is a lot of fun as well as an effective way to master the topic. Click on any element of a chart — a planet, a house cusp, an asteroid — and an explanation pops up. If you're a newcomer to astrology, this product could be just what you're looking for. Call (866) 77-ASTRO or go to www.astrograph.com, where you can download a free demo with over 200 celebrity charts, including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and J. K. Rowling. (To get the demo, click on any one of the software choices and then go to "Downloads.") Even if you don't spring for the software, you can get a free copy of your chart along with a mini-interpretation of the Sun and Moon placements. (Just click on Horoscopes and go to the bottom of the page, where you can create an account for free.)

Playing with the PC

I love the Mac. I think Steve Jobs is a genius. But I've started to wonder why there's so much great astrological software for the PC and hardly any for the Mac. I also wonder what it would be like if I, you know, fooled around on a PC. Would it be wrong?

The software options for PC are beyond tempting and too numerous to do justice to here. I asked astrologer Hank Friedman, a software guru and frequent software reviewer for The Mountain Astrologer magazine, to make a few suggestions. His recommendations include — but were not limited to — the following:

^ The Electronic Astrologer Series by ACS (www.astrocom.com). ACS produces three basic programs that can be purchased separately or bundled together at a savings: "The Electronic Astrologer Reveals Your Horoscope," "The Electronic Astrologer Reveals Your Future," and "The Electronic Astrologer Reveals Your Romance."

These programs include plenty of helpful information, but primarily they simply generate reports. To get an idea of what they're like, go to the Web site, click on the "Electronic Astrologer Series," and then click on the program that interests you. Free sample printouts appear at the bottom of the page. The free natal and future reports are written for Willie Nelson. The romance report is written for an imaginary couple: Drew Barrymore and the debonair Cary Grant, 71 years her senior. Except for the fact that he died in 1986, she could do worse (and has).

^ Kepler 7.0. This amazingly comprehensive, exciting program includes 47 lessons in astrology, an astrological encyclopedia, over 19,000 charts, and a mind-boggling collection of functions. Want information on Vedic astrology, fixed stars, or the dark moon Lilith? It's all here, along with the basics: natal charts, transits and progressions, and comparisons, for about $300. Go to www.patterns.com for more information.

^ AstrolDeluxe ReportWriter by Halloran Software; Win*Star Express; Janus; and the list goes on and on. Which is why you might want to get some additional help before making a purchase.

Seeking out advice

If you've decided to invest in astrological software, it's smart to talk to someone who's knowledgeable about both the software you want and the hardware you have. Here are two ways to get trustworthy information:

^ Visit the Astrology Software Shop (www.astrologysoftwareshop. com) or e-mail the shop at [email protected].

^ Contact Hank Friedman for assistance in choosing software that's right for you. The consultation is free, and he sells all the software at a real discount. You can e-mail him at [email protected] or give him a call at (888) 777-7366.

Above all, visit his Web site at www.soulhealing.com. There you can find detailed discussions of astrological software, fascinating articles on many other aspects of astrology, and a stunning collection of recipes involving chocolate — because man cannot live by stars alone.

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