Jobfind newspaper - Dr. Gadget column
February 15, 2004
A Calculator Made with the Right Stuff
If there’s one thing that the “lite” programs
Microsoft chooses to package with its Windows operating system
do, it’s whet the appetite for more robust offerings.
Its notepad application, for instance, has generated a legion
of programs by shareware makers that improve the concept in
one way or another.
The same is true for the flaccid calculator application bundled
with the ubiquitous operating system, which is why a program
like the Moffsoft Calculator can be a very handy tool for
many computer users.
Moffsoft (moffsoft.com) recently upgraded the second version
of its sinewy number manipulator, which sells for $19.95,
to include some advanced financial functions – a product
pricing function allows you to calculate the cost of goods
sold, profit margin, markup/markdown, retail sales price and
gross profit in a popup window – and improve print and
What I particularly like about the calculator is its use
of a “virtual tape.” As you perform calculations,
they appear in a window pane beside the calculator keys. The
pane serves the same purpose as a tape in a calculator and
makes keeping tabs on your computations a lot easier than
juggling them in your skull.
The calculator’s keyboard has 31 virtual keys –
number keys zero to nine; 00 and 000 keys for quickly increasing
a number’s magnitude; a full set of keys for managing
digits in the calculator’s memory; keys for clearing
entries and the tape; and keys for addition, subtraction,
division, multiplication, square roots, percentages and reciprocals.
You can customize general aspects of the application. For
example, you can hide the tape, make the program appear always
on top of other programs, add an icon for the calculator in
the Windows task tray and choose between fixed and floating
decimal points. You can even add a tax button that employs
a single click to apply a tax rate to an entry.
You can also customize the calculator’s buttons –
hide them, disable some of them or change their appearance
– and its “skin.” There are a number of
pre-set color and font schemes for the calculator, or you
can define your own.
And you can toggle the input mode of the calculator between
handheld or desktop calculator styles.
In addition to its new pop-up product function, the calculator
has pop-ups for financial functions, unit conversions, and
date and time calculations.
I found the unit conversion feature very valuable, since
I have several bookmarks in my Web browser pegged to sites
for doing what this calculator lets me do in a few clicks.
You’ll find common conversions here – length,
volume, weight and area – as well as some less common
ones – time, temperature, speed, data storage and currency.
The currency conversion requires some manual updating of
exchange rates before using it. An automatic update of rates
from the Internet would be a feature worth adding to the program
in the future.
Time conversions have always vexed me, so much so that I
installed a calculator on my system dedicated exclusively
to the calculations. That calculator is one less piece of
software occupying space on my hard drive because of Moffsoft’s
When first installed on my system, the calculator did act
a little erratically, but the problems mysteriously disappeared
after continued use.
After my word processor, this dandy calculator has become
one of my most consulted applications. We’ve become
joined at the keyboard. If you take it for a test spin, you’ll
see what I mean.