GoCIS: Another good Windows autopilot
GoCIS (GO WUGNET) is my second favorite third-party Windows autopilot program. Originally known as WinCIS, GoCIS was developed by Logix Systems and is distributed by Patri-Soft. GoCIS costs $59 and is a shareware program.
Unfortunately, GoCIS isn’t as easy to use as NavCIS is, which is why it earns a lower rank. Even though initial setup isn’t complex, the learning curve is
a bit steep. To its advantage, however, it is a very powerful program, and it includes a nice interactive mode (that works similar to the regular CompuServe software) in addition to the autopilot features.
Unlike most other autopilot programs, GoCIS was written in VisualBasicwhich means it won’t run by itself. You need to have the VisualBasic runtime program VBRUN300.EXE installed on your hard drive to run GoCIS.
OzWin II: An old DOS friend in Windows clothing
OzWin (GO OZWIN) is a familiar name to many DOS users because it is the progeny of the most popular DOS-based autopilot program: OzCIS. Ozarks West Software is the publisher behind OzWin II (their second-generation Windows product). If you’re an OzCIS/DOS user, you just might want to check out OzWin. OzWin is a commercial program that you can order directly from the OzCIS forum (GO OZWIN) for $89.
Unlike NavCIS and GoCIS, OzWin is not very graphical or straightforward. In fact, a lot of the more powerful features of the program are buried beneath multiple menus and dialog boxes, and documentation is written in such technical terminology that it doesn’t really help you find things. In its de¬fense, OzWin is probably the most powerful autopilot program available;
but to access that power, you’ll sacrifice some ease-of-use.
Should you use an autopilot program?
Is an autopilot program better than the regular CompuServe software? Well, it depends on what you’re doing online.
If all you want to do is send and receive e-mail and forum messages, an autopilot program is the way to go. Autopilots automate these activities almost completely (composing and reading messages offline), which saves you a lot of money. On the other hand, if you participate in a lot of interactive communications—conferencing, database searching, or travel reservations—you need to use the regular CompuServe software.
In reality, you’ll probably end up using both kinds of programs. I use an autopilot program on a daily basis to keep up on forum messages and to grab my e-mail. Whenever I want to do something more interactive, like search a database, I fire up regular CompuServe. I also use the CompuServe Software to browse through unfamiliar forums to determine whether I want to add them to my automated list. CompuServe is also my choice for browsing through news and weather reports.
My recommendation? If you’re a heavy CompuServe user, use a combination of the regular CompuServe software and autopilot programs. If you’re an occasional user, skip the autopilots completely. By doing only the bare minimum online (at the fastest modem speeds available) and taking care of the more time-intensive activities (such as reading messages) offline, you save money on your CompuServe connect charges. Depending on the amount of time you spend on CompuServe, you could reduce your monthly CompuServe bill to as little as one-fourth of your previous charges!