MoneyCounts 7.0. $49 (on special for $39 until the end of the year). From Parsons Technology, One Parsons Drive, P.O. Box 100, Hiawatha, IA 52233-0100. (800) 223-6925.
Microsoft Money 2.0. $64.95. From Microsoft Corp., One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399. (800) 426-9400.
Managing Your Money 9.0. $79.95. From MECA Software, 55 Walls Drive, Fairfield, CT 06430-0912. (800) 288-MECA.
Quicken 2.0 for Windows. $69.95. From Intuit, 155 Linfield Ave., P.O. Box 3014, Menlo Park, CA 94026-3014. (800) 624-8742.
Summary: Home finance software can balance your checkbook, estimate what you need to save for college tuition and analyze your capital gains. It can even handle accounting for a small business. Which program is best for you?
MoneyCounts handles all the basics, and Microsoft Money makes transactions easy with its smart "coaching." I like Managing Your Money and Quicken best, with MYM the tool for those with lots of investments, especially stocks (it also has the tight connection to MECA's own TaxCut software), and Quicken for those who make liberal use of a credit card (and have enough PC to run Windows comfortably).
Keep an eye out for deals -- although the list prices of these programs range from $40 to $80, there may be deals as low as $15 as the competition rages.
On a scale of one to four, with one indicating poor and four indicating excellent, here's how the products rate:
ONEYCOUNTS 7.0 Performance 3
Ease of use 3
MICROSOFT MONEY 2.0 Performance 3
Ease of use 4
MANAGING YOUR MONEY 9.0 Performance 4
Ease of use 4
JTC QUICKEN 2.0 FOR WINDOWS Performance 4
Ease of use 4
(Reviews of shareware programs for IBM and compatible computers. The programs are available from bulletin boards and computer clubs. Users try them, then pay a fee to register if they use them regularly.)
Daddy Leopold sat Wolfgang down at the keyboard when the lad was 6 and taught him to play a minuet. A scant 29 years later, the younger Mozart produced the "Jupiter" symphony.
The moral is obvious. Get Junior or Jane started on a keyboard, and the next century will hardly be under way when the kid is outperforming graybeards. Our own keyboard of choice is a computer keyboard -- partly because our offspring shy away from minuets and partly because there are nifty computer programs for the toddler set.
MUSICAL PAINT BRUSH: The young user has more control of the results with this program by David Reinhart of Pequea, Pa. The user moves the mouse to draw lines, select colors and make drawings. The menu interface is handsome and easy to understand, and snappy sound effects accompany the work.
(For copies of all of these children's programs, send $15, plus tax for Californians, to Shareware, P.O. Box 7037, Long Beach,
Calif. 90807. Fax (310) 426-0110. A shareware catalog on a disk costs $2. Please specify 5.25- or 3.5-inch disks.)
The baker's dozen of True Type fonts that come with Windows 3.1 will handle nearly any typesetting need for the average home or office user. But for people who are doing desk-top publishing and need more variety, there are options -- lots of options -- for variety.
If you have a modem and are familiar with electronic bulletin boards, you can download True Type fonts for the cost of your phone call. Many are in the public domain, which means they're free, or shareware, which means you can try them before you buy them.
If you're looking for convenience, though, a company called Qualitype is offering a package of 150 True Type fonts, plus some bells and whistles in the form of sounds and icons for Windows 3.1, for $99.
Each True Type font in the package comes with a character set, so if you're looking for a pound sterling symbol in Courier typeface, you get a character map that tells you how to produce it.
In addition to such typeface standbys as Helvetica and Century Schoolbook (here called SchoolCentury), you get designer types that include Arabian, Black Forest, Cloistered Monk, Ghoulface (for your Halloween posters), Snowcaps, Tumbleweed (a wonderful Western typeface) and Doghaus -- heavy, light and medium. Kung Fu, Lautrec and Greece round out the international fonts, and there is an assortment of DingBits, or clip-art symbols, for nearly every occasion.
These fonts could be used for everything from wedding invitations to PTA posters. In the hands of someone gone type-mad, however, the results could look like a bad ransom note using letters clipped from newspaper and magazines. The thin manual gives novices some useful hints in that area.
The font collection also comes with hundreds of icons that can be assigned to your programs in the Windows program manager, along with a registered copy of the shareware IconMaster program.
Qualitype's font package will take about 7 megabytes of space on your hard disk, if you install all the fonts. The icon and audio parts need another 2.5 megabytes. You'll need a PC capable of running Windows 3.1. The Qualitype Font Value Pack for Windows will be available later this month direct from Qualitype, 29209 Northwest Highway, Suite 611, Southfield, Mich. 48034. (800) 950-2921.