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Review of "Fix for Piano Discovery System (PDS) 3.0 so that it will work on Windows XP"




he Piano Discovery System (PDS) (REVIEW!) is an excellent, and popular, software tool for learning piano on your own or with the help of a teacher. Even though it is a 16-bit Windows 3.1 application, available since 1995, its pedagogical soundness and friendly approach have made it almost indispensable for many people. PDS works properly in those Windows operating systems which use the TrueType font specification (3.1, 95, 98, ME). Unfortunately, it is virtually unusable in the newer operating systems, Windows XP and Windows 2000, which use the new OpenType font specification. In these two cases, a font problem causes notes and staffs to be displayed as blocks (see "Before fix install" screen shot below). Until now, there has been no known solution to this problem, as Jump!Music, the original manufacturer of PDS, is no longer in business.

PDS aficionados can now take heart. An inexpensive software "fix" has now become available that allows PDS 3.0 to run properly on both Windows XP and Windows 2000. This review details the results of our testing of that fix.



Before fix install

I obtained the fix from its author as an e-mail attachment. After saving it to disk and scanning it for viruses (none found in this copy), I tested it on an IBM ThinkPad 570 running Windows 2000 Professional (SP4) with a 366 MHz Pentium III processor, 196 Mb of memory, and a Cirrus Logic video chip. The fix was also tested on a Gateway 710XL running Windows XP Professional (SP2) with a 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 processor, 2 Gb memory, and NVIDIA GeForce 5950 Ultra video. The Home versions of these operating systems were not available for testing, but results reported herein should be reflected in the Home versions, since they use the same font specification as the Professional versions tested. The author of the fix indicates that he has successfully tested it with Windows XP Home version.

To install the fix, PDS 3.0 must already be installed and working on the system. I confirmed before installing the fix that the font problem existed in all parts of PDS which use it (primarily the Practice Room, Performance Hall, and Schoolhouse), as shown in the "Before fix install" screen shot. Installation of the fix is simple. Running the executable file starts the familiar Program Setup Wizard, which walks you through the setup. After supplying the wizard with a password, obtained from the author of the fix, and entering the PDS directory path, the wizard installed the fix in a matter of seconds. If you make a mistake in choosing the PDS install directory, the wizard is smart enough to identify the error before it installs. There is no need to reboot the system after the install.

After fix install

The fix produced similar results on both the tested systems. The font problem is apparently completely resolved, as the "After fix install" picture at right shows. Numerous tests were made in all parts of PDS which exhibited the font problem. In every case, the problem was eliminated and PDS was now usable again.

I found no problems with the fix and no negative consequences of installing it upon the operation of other programs on these systems. According to the author, "The fix overwrites some files in the directory that PDS was installed to, and adds a file in the same directory.  No other files or system settings are altered."  I did not test the fix with earlier versions of PDS than 3.0, however, I think it likely that the fix will work to resolve the font issue with earlier versions as well.

If you're a fan of PDS and you want to cure its problems in Windows XP or Windows 2000, this little $10 fix may be just what the doctor ordered.

John M. Zeigler, Ph.D.

"Fix for Piano Discovery System (PDS) 3.0 so that it will work on Windows XP", $10, MediaWink, 1112 Oakridge Drive, Suite #104, Fort Collins, CO  80525-6242. WWW: E-mail: see web site for address.

Page created: 11/5/04
Last updated: 01/30/15
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