NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, October 2005
The Deals Column
by Bob (the Cheapskate)Click, The Dealsguy
Greater Orlando Computer Users Group
(click to email author)

There isn’t much trade show work in the summer so we always go north in July to visit our families. This year it was a challenge paying for the gas. Not only that, but at two stations (in different states), we felt we got short gallons. Our car calculates its gas mileage and tells you how much gas we have used so we know about how much gas the tank should hold when filling it up. It’s pretty accurate and when you get near that number of gallons, the pump nozzle usually shuts off. When it continues to fill the tank for a gallon or more, it seems possible we are getting short gallons there. Yes we could try to report it to the state, but when we are on a trip with a destination and a time frame, it’s easier to chalk it up to experience and not stop there again. Gas prices are bad enough without a gas station clipping us at the same time.

Construction doesn’t help either since signs are often scarce or hard to spot at construction areas. In all the years I have traveled I-75, there has always been plenty of construction, especially in some states. It’s just as bad, if not worse, here in central Florida with ongoing construction all over for years, especially on I-4 where we often travel. That road is always a mess with ongoing stop-and-go conditions. I’m sure all of my readers can relate to construction and traffic problem in their own areas.

How About Designing or Remodeling Your Home

If you plan to build or remodel a home, how tough is the job of getting the design just like you want it? You could browse through a ton of architectural designs, or read a lot of magazines and become completely confused. You might even have a conference with an architectural firm or builder and discuss the entire project; or you could purchase Super Home Suite by Punch! Software and experiment all you like right on your own computer to prepare. This package has everything you need to design or remodel your own home, as well as the landscaping, and you can use your own creative contribution to get what you like. In fact, you can move walls around and even adjust the studs to get the type structure that suits your fancy, not to mention even the landscaping design around the home.

This package contains seven powerful programs that work as one to help you in the design or remodeling plan. They are 3D Home Design, 3D Landscape, Home Estimator, AutoFraming, Floorplan Trace, Real Model and 3D Furniture Workshop. Besides that, you also get Ultimate Deck as a bonus. Comparing it with a competitive product shows many features in Super Home Suite not included in the other product. When I worked with it, I was impressed with the versatility of this product, and the many features that I found during my experience checking it out. I always need instructions so it also took some reading and experimenting from their 120-page manual, and checking the help section. I sure didn’t get prolific in a day. Even the packaging was unique when I opened it.

A good example of the complete coverage and interaction in this product is the Home Estimator that automatically tallies your expenses and calculates total material costs as you design. You can add local costs and view information in an exportable spreadsheet format (which I did not do). It recognizes 2"x4", 2"x6" and custom studs; and keeps separate counts; also door and window schedules. You can list quantities of trees and other plantings, and square footage calculations are included. This product has so many features that I suggest you check their Web site [http://www.punchsoftware.com] for complete information. I loved working with this product even though I don’t need a house right now. After a few days, I designed a new home with my favorite desires near my present income, but I’m working on a million dollar home to build after my wife’s lottery ticket wins the thirty-five million this week. Of course there is just a slight chance she might not win! I love this new toy.

Punch! Software tells me there is a $10 Manufacturer’s rebate available on the Super Home Suite, ESP (Estimated Street Price $49.99) making it just $39.99. Sounds like a bargain to me. There should be a rebate sticker on the box and a form inside to send in on all their rebated products.

Punch! Software also offers several other products, some of which are more specialized for particular tasks. I will describe two others below and more products with a rebate next month:

Punch! Master Landscape and Home Design Professional. ESP is $79.99. Manufacturer’s rebate is $20, making it only $59.99.

This product is new, but here is partial information from a similar product on their Web site: “This package contains nine powerful garden and landscape design software tools, patent-pending PhotoView™ and their sortable PlantFinder™ database with over 2,000 landscape plants, and in one easy-to-use interface! In addition, you will receive Ultimate Deck, a Punch! deck design software completely integrated. PhotoView™ technology lets you combine real-world photos with your own landscape and garden designs to create a realistic image of your future outdoor living space. You can import a photo of your own home, add landscaping or a deck, then view it from any angle, with realistic 3D photo-quality perspective. Place a scanned photo of doors, windows, pets, even add your children into the backyard!” I didn’t see the new Pro version described on their Web site, but the basic version is there with plenty of description. It appears to be very powerful.

Punch! Professional Home Design Suite Platinum. ESP is $99.99. Manufacturer’s rebate is $20, making if just $79.99.

This home design software package lets you design all of the critical components for your home. The powerful home design capability includes foundations, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, custom windows, custom roofs, and much, much more. You can turn layered drawings on and off for uncluttered viewing of your home design and you can combine as few, or as many, layers as you wish, and spot potentially costly design conflicts. Ordinary blueprints could never give you that level of insight into your home designs!

Their Web site showed fourteen major features in this package, but I didn’t see the new Platinum version posted there. However, check the Web site for more info. They say they have offered the #1 selling products in this field for the last five years, so take a look.

An Announcement I Received Back In June And Edited For publishing

Our company, XP-Web-Buttons, would like to announce the release of XP Web Buttons 3.15 for Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003. We'd like to offer your members and subscribers a 25% discount off the regular price.

Design Website Buttons With Style

A large part of a website’s appeal and navigability comes from the clever design of menus and buttons. XP Web Buttons is a nifty tool for creating stylish web buttons, navigation bars and menus with fully customizable features in a few clicks of the mouse. Web page designers have a complete palette of XP themes, font faces and styles, shadows, icons, targets and more to choose from. XP Web Buttons generates all images, JavaScript and HTML code automatically. These custom buttons react to mouse activity like rollover and clicking, and each button parameter, including size, color, alignment, word wrap and many more, can be easily adjusted and then previewed to test how each button will respond to mouse events. The latest release of XP Web Buttons sports a new interface, support for .ico files and clear-type fonts, revised help and tutorial functions and more icon selections in .gif and .ico formats. A host of sample projects for inspiration has been included.

Free demo version and product information is available at [http://xp-web-buttons.com/]. A personal license for XP Web Buttons costs USD $29.95. Windows™ 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003 operating system is required. To get the UG discount, order at

That's it for this month. Meet me here again next month if your editor permits. This column is written to make user group members aware of special offers or freebies I have found or arranged, and my comments should not be interpreted to encourage, or discourage, the purchase of any products, no matter how enthused I might sound. Bob (The Cheapskate) Click [bobclick@mindspring.com]. Visit my Web site at [http://www.dealsguy.com].

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