Many astrology programs include full program manuals in the software itself. You can access this manual by clicking on the Help item at the top right of your menu. In many cases, this built-in manual is much more extensive than the printed manual -- if there is one -- that comes with the program, and you can also search it for specific words, e. Protecting Your Computer and Data You should always regularly backup i. Otherwise, you could lose all of your files and have to enter the data all over again.
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Hard drives fail, and also with today's threats from computer viruses, etc. Perhaps the best way to have a full backup of your entire hard drive -- so that in the event of a crash you can be fully up and running quickly -- is to purchase an external hard drive and twice a month, plug it into the USB slot in your computer via the cable they include with the drive , and then use an excellent free program like Macrium Reflect free edition to back up the entire hard drive.
I do this every other week or so. Macrium reflect is very fast and compresses data on-the-fly so that you can store more than one backup on your external hard drive.
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It's excellent. If you use the internet, you also will need anti-virus and anti-malware software to protect you from computer viruses and to keep "malware" from installing itself on your computer and sending your private data out on the internet. My favorite firewall is part of my preferred anti-virus and anti-malware software is now BitDefender Total Security This award-winning program is incredibly effective at protecting your PC, is inexpensive you can install it on five of your devices , and it never slows down your computer, because it does "mini-scans" in the background when you're not using your PC.
Learn About Your Astrology Software While many astrology programs are easy enough to use without reading the manuals, you will get the most from your software if you do take the time to read the program documentation. There may be features that you don't know about, you'll learn how to customize your program, and you might find quicker methods of performing tasks.
Note: For a few programs, it is actually almost impossible to understand and use their features without studying their manual. Free Written and Video Tutorials I have created many free video tutorials, and also offer many written tutorials, on my websites devoted to specific programs to help you learn to use each of the major programs. These websites offer reviews, questions and answers, tutorials, special offers, and more: Solar Fire Gold Janus Sirius Regulus Platinum Shri Jyoti Star Kepler Additional Astrology Software Tutorials Sometimes the easiest way to learn to use a program is to watch a video explaining it.
Besides all of the written and video tutorials that I've created for astrologers on the websites listed above, here are a list of additional videos offered by companies to help you learn your software.
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Software offers a huge set of free video tutorials for StarTrax Millennium and their other software. Cathar Software has a video tour of Regulus Platinum. Cosmic Patterns offers a set of online videos on how to use Sirius. There are two additional resources you can use for learning and resolving issues with Solar Fire Gold: The Astrolabe website's Tech Support Knowledge Base, which you can use to search for answers to a wide variety of questions.
And for Mountain Astrologer readers I am providing a link to the Solar Fire version 5 manual, which goes into much greater depth on many of the programs features than the current manual. The bigger astrology calculation programs have so many features that you're better off learning them one feature at a time. Take your time and savor the power at your fingertips. Astrology software companies -- unlike the rest of the software industry -- provide free customer support.
The biggest mistake you can make is to hire a local consultant who doesn't even know your software to help you when you encounter difficulties. Call or email the company that made the program instead, and you'll get free and expert help immediately. You can also call them to help you get started, not just if you encounter an error. How to Contact Astrology Companies You can email every company for technical support, or call them to talk directly with tech support. I know this to be true both from talking to the companies and from the customer support I have given people. Next, if your data entry is definitely correct, write down each of the steps you took that got you the incorrect result and also write down any error messages that the software gave you so that the support personnel can reproduce your work , and then call the company that created the program.
It is much rarer for the problem to involve your computer or printer or monitor than the program itself. The astrology software firms want you to be happy with their products, and they want to fix and improve them, so please do contact them as soon as possible after a problem arises. Since the companies are market-driven, if you want to see a new feature added to your software, make sure you let them know. The limitations due to birth times.
I have just June completely rewritten this section of the article, greatly expanded it, and retested all of the calculations. This is a very important article called Astrological Techniques and Uncertain Birth Times that every astrologer should read to understand what astrological techniques are particularly sensitive to birth time errors. You can read the full, new article by clicking here.
Start watching a month in advance for an increase in Venus or Mars energy — which should last for a couple of days when they are within a degree of your Ascendant — and you will begin to ascertain whether or not your birth time is correct. Always watch Saturn's exact transits to the angles, too, as these are much more palpable. Limitations due to the accuracy of astronomical data.
One of the world's experts on and source of the algorithms for planetary positions is Dr. In talking to him, I was very pleased to learn that the equations that exist today are quite accurate for the positions of the outer planets even for 1 AD. On the other hand, the position of the comet Chiron cannot be determined with any degree of accuracy before AD due to an encounter with Saturn on that date, re: Alois Treindl of AstroDienst.
Additionally, many programs cannot calculate asteroid positions accurately before about AD. Note: To test Vedic astrology software, with these tables, for accuracy, in your program, change the Ayanamsha to none or Tropical, if possible. Remember to change it back afterwards! If you are an astrologer who likes to do planetary returns other than Solar or Lunar, be aware that the Ascendant position and houses of the returns will often be in error.
When planets are moving slowly near their stations it becomes impossible to calculate returns accurately — the astronomical precision simply does not exist.
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Additionally, it is very difficult to calculate the exact moment that a planet stations. If a person is born within twelve hours of a station, your software may mislabel the planet retrograde when it is actually direct, or vice versa.
I was in the process of writing a review of the new DayWatch calendar software for The Mountain Astrologer when something funny happened. I was looking at the date and time for Mercury's retrograde on April 6th and discovered that most software programs did not take into account the switch to Daylight Savings time on April 4th. As a result, the times were an hour off. The reason this problem occurred was that I began the one-month search for planetary stations at the beginning of April Almost none of the programs had the ability to switch to DST in the middle of a search.
That is why it is so important not to trust software blindly, but instead to use one's common sense. Check the software you use, doing a transit search for one month starting April 1, , to see how precise it is.
One major program is 2 hours and 22 minutes off, while most programs are correct within a minute or two, or at most within 10 minutes. Electronic Atlas Issues. If the electronic, or paper, atlas you use to find longitudes, latitudes, time zones, and time changes has errors, birth charts will be one hour off, or more.
No Time Changes. Many novices mistakenly assume that their software has an accurate time-change atlas built in. Most programs now include the ACS or another electronic atlas. But smaller programs and those created in countries outside of the U. Old Atlas Data.
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Many people buy software and never update it. This is a big mistake where atlases are concerned, because time zones and daylight savings are in constant flux in the world. If you have an electronic software atlas that is several years old, the changes in Eastern Europe and South America will certainly not be up-to-date and many of the charts you do for children will be wrong. Even earlier versions of major programs have out-of-date atlas data. Navigating the time zone thicket is an incredibly complex task, and professionals like Tom Shanks of Astro Communication Services and David Cochrane of Cosmic Patterns continually scrutinize the changes taking place in the world and update their software the ACS atlas and Kepler.
Update your atlas and software regularly. Up-to-date Atlas test: The chart for October, 1, for Lisbon, Portugal for am should have a rising sign of 3 Scorpio 23 and a time zone of -1 because Daylight Savings time is in effect. Limited Number of Cities in Atlas. A few programs, e. One cannot and should not assume that nearby cities have the same time zone, especially in areas with complex zone boundaries, like the state of Illinois.
Duplicate Cities. Another atlas issue is the presence of two or more cities with the same name in the same state! Many programs handle this correctly by showing you both choices, and indicate which city is bigger. But other programs fail completely, showing only one city perhaps even the smaller one! Always ask your clients, if they are born in a state with two or more cities with the same name, which county they were born in i. Company-created atlases.
While most mainstream U. In the case of Cosmic Patterns, the makers of Kepler, they actually have incorporated both their own research and the ACS data, and so offer an incredibly up-to-date and comprehensive time change atlas. But many firms, in an attempt to save money by not paying licensing fees, develop their own atlas, which may or may not be as comprehensive or as accurate as the ACS or Kepler ones. Always test the accuracy of the atlases for programs that have chosen this path, using the tests in this article. The Advanced Atlas Test. Here are some cities that are particularly good for testing whether your atlas is completely trustworthy.
Even atlases that generally do well may fail at some of these. When software authors choose to develop their own atlases, instead of using the industry-standard ACS atlas data, errors can creep it and places omitted. At the time of testing, December , several major programs couldn't find a city or gave the wrong time zone for a place or two, but I'm happy to report that every manufacturer immediately addressed the issue.
Please remember to get the latest atlas updates when they become available for your software. Important Note : If you are creating charts for newborns living in foreign countries, go to www. According to David Cochrane of Cosmic Patterns, this website is an excellent source for accurate contemporary time zone information. For example, Venezuela has changed the time zone used countrywide. Thanks to David Cochrane for this alert.
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