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You are about to start playing with a CD ROM that has fairly extraordinary content. As of this writing it includes over twenty UNENCRYPTED novels in several formats, including as much of the content from our first CD ROM, bound into David Weber’s War of Honor, as we could find room for—more than twenty novels for free—and with no stupid codes to work around. Think of that. The reason for the plethora of formats is to try to please the people who want to read the novels on their Palm Pilots or other text-specialized palm-sized devices. There are also Rich Text Format versions of all the novels, which can be read by all serious word processors, and Doc files, which are MS Word specific.

All this is simple as pi for any computer geek, but if you become confused try visiting baen.com (just click on baen.com on the opening screen of the CD) for the precise info you need. (Note that for the disk to work properly you need to have your computer logged onto the World Wide Web, because several of the options assume that you are currently connected, and indeed will try to log you on if you are not.) Log onto the Bar (how to do that should be self explanatory once you are logged onto baen.com) and go to the topic “CD ROMS.” Leave a query, and some Barfly will probably be delighted to help you.

The CD ROM is strictly standard in its use of file structures and so forth, and when you insert it into your machine it will run automatically. After the tank crunches the crunchies you will be faced with a screenfull of options. The most important is the set of MP3 files that constitute the novel There Will Be Dragons in audio format. (Do whatever it is you do to arrange the transfer of those files to your portable player.) Then there are the text versions of all those novels. You are given the option of “downloading” the titles in several formats. For those of you who have Microsoft Word installed, the RTF format is best. (Honestly, this is a debatable point, but hey, I’m writing this and that’s what I think. Arnold Bailey, baen.com’s Webmaster and CD ROM designer disagrees, but he thinks everything is so self evident we don’t even need this orientation.) All others who do not want to use Palm Pilots or some such are advised to stick to the Internet browser format (html). The browser option is pretty bullet proof, and will allow you to read the manuscript on-screen with minimal fuss in the font color, style and size you prefer.

On the other hand, if you want to play with the disk and files, the structure is standard. Take any file manager that can handle CD ROMs, including Microsoft Windows Explorer, and you can examine the CD’s contents to your heart's delight. The audio book and the sound samples are all MP3, and the pictures are all JPG extensions. You almost certainly have sound (Microsoft’s Media Player) and image-display software (Microsoft Photo Editor, Adobe Photoshop, Internet Explorer) that will handle the extensions. The simplest way to handle David Mattingly’s animated screen saver is to just click on “install.” Just remember, as with every other file on this disk, you can copy it, and you can give it away, but you may not sell it!

There is nothing mysterious about the disk; if you are having trouble your neighborhood guru can probably help you out, but she’ll be dreadfully condescending about it. All files remain functional after they have been moved to your hard drive. Enjoy.

Jim Baen

PS When you grow tired of this disk come visit WebScriptions.net where there are hundreds more eBooks from your favorite Baen authors