Z*Magazine: 13-Jun-88 #110From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 07/29/93-09:51:16 AM Z
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From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG) Subject: Z*Magazine: 13-Jun-88 #110 Date: Thu Jul 29 09:51:16 1993 Syndicate ZMagazine June 13, 1988 =================== = ISSUE #110 = =================== American Publishing Enterprises, Inc P.O. Box 47, Middlesex, NJ 08846 _________________________________________________________________________ Publisher/Editor Managing Editor Assistant Editor Sales Manager Ron Kovacs Rex Reade Steve Godun Gary Gorski _________________________________________________________________________ =========================Contents> <*> Editors Desk <*> CES Report Part 1 <*> Atari News Update <*> <*> New Products <*> Oasis BBS Update <*> Atari Scuttlebits <*> Express! Pro Help <*> Compaction Programs Revisited <*> Carina BBS Review _________________________________________________________________________ =========================Editors Desk> by Ron Kovacs Acceptance of last weeks issue was not the greatest. However, as you can see we are still in 80 column format. We have discussed this matter at great length and will keep this NEW format. CES reports are included in this weeks edition. For the complete story on the CES show, please read ST-Report #39. =========================CES Report Part 1> ANTIC PUBLISHING INC., COPYRIGHT 1988 REPRINTED BY PERMISSION. ON THE ROAD AGAIN... Report from the Summer Consumer Electronics Show by Andrew Reese START Editor (Chicago, Ill, June 4, 1988) Chicago in June can be beautiful, but getting to the Summer Consumer Electronics Show (CES) here can be anything but... You don't need to hear a litany of travel woes, but suffice it to say that the crowning blow was a collision at the cabstand at O'Hare International Airport between a cab and a rent-a-car bus! But your faithful reporter made it to the show for this first report for you. Summer CES is a monster of a show -- there are some 1400 exhibitors in 730,000 net square feet of display space. Over 100,000 attendees will march the aisles this year seeing games, audio, video (even adult video), telephones of every type and description, fax machines and almost anything else that might sell between now and Christmas. And Atari is here... Yes, Atari is here at CES, but it's different from Comdex, the Computer Dealers Exposition in April. Here, the Entertainment Electronics Division (video games) holds sway and the computers take a back seat -- at least this year. No new 16-bit computer products were shown and the 8-bit products were all games for the 2600, 7800 and XE game systems. In fact, only three ST's were here in the Atari display area and all were playing MIDI -- well, they weren't actually in the area, more like grafted onto the back of Atari's black game temple. But Atari's games were here and in profusion. Another notable impression from Atari -- the Electronic Entertainment Division, at least, is willing to spend money and lots of it to promote their game systems and software. Mike Katz, president of the division, announced a $10 million advertising campaign at a press conference held just before CES. This campaign will include TV ads to run for the rest of the year, including ones featuring such sports stars as Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams. And in the trade dailies here at the show, Atari bought lots of ad space. They're serious about selling games, folks -- they want to double the sales of their games systems this year for the third year in a row. I can't wait for them to get just as serious about selling computers in the U.S.! Of course, Atari's direct game competitors are here as well. Nintendo bought 20,000 square feet of display space. Yep, that's not a glitch: 20,000 square feet. Their area was filled with third-party developers showing dozens of new games. But the chip shortage has hit even Nintendo and they have had to scale down their optimistic projections from 40-million units (carts) to 30-million. Sega is showing a combination of arcade stand-alone games and their home game system, now available with 3D glasses. Sega's display area is not as big in area as Nintendo's and not as well positioned as Atari's, which is just at the foot of the main escalator into the hall. And now to the software. This is a game show for the most part and all of the majors were here and some surprises. The only significant serious business product I saw was LDW Power, a new high-speed, high-capacity, GEM-based, 1-2-3-compatible spreadsheet from long-time Atari faithful, Logical Design Works. This package features built-in graphing, high-speed re-calculation, efficient use of memory and comes with a 232-page manual and lots of little features of the kind that make the difference between a product you use grudgingly and one you turn to with a smile. Available now for the eminently reasonable price of $150. Activision was here -- or should I say Mediagenics, the new name for the umbrella company that gathers together such names as Activision, Gamestar and Rainbird (formerly Firebird) under one corporate logo. You'll still see the individual names, but the company is Mediagenics. Their big promotion this year -- at least overall -- is a new Pete Rose baseball game -- but not for the Atari, sorry. But Rainbird is a different story entirely. Rainbird is hitting the streets in the next few months with a great line-up of hot games. First is Carrier Command, the long-awaited 3D solid graphics flight and vehicle simulator. It is available now for the ST at a price of $44.95 and is not copy-protected. I played this gem and it's hot, a great futuristic combination of strategy, tactics and arcade action. Next up for Rainbird will be Starglider II, a solid 3D version of the great ST game. Due out in July at a price of $44.95, this version adds lots of features that would have been thought impossible a few years ago. The screen refresh rate is nothing short of spectacular and the variety of weapons and inter-stellar travel broaden the appeal from the original, which was a landmark game in its day. And speaking of the original, it's being re-released at a new lower price of $24.95. Oh, you won't believe it, but the ST and Amiga versions of Starglider II come on the same disk...it's bootable by either!!!!! And Rainbird will release a whole series of new ST games over the next few months. They are really going to support the ST with a broad range of entertainment software, much of it priced at the very reasonable price of $24.95. Thanks for the vote of confidence in the viability of the ST market! Lots and lots of arcade classics are being translated to the ST. Capcom, a new name to the Atari market is bringing Bionic Commando, Side Arms, Street Fighter and 1943 to the ST this summer. The first three are arcade-style hit, kick, shoot and kill games with animated figures doing your dirty work. The last is the top-view aerial game set at Midway Island during WWII. They look like pretty darned good ports and should do well with Atarians hungry for more ACTION! On a calmer (??????) note, Sierra On-Line showed some dynamite new games due out in the next few months. If you liked Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, well, he's back and "Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places)." A funny, funny adult game and great-looking follow-up to my wife's favorite game. Due out toward the end of the summer. And for all you King's Quest fans, KQ IV is on its way with MIDI-output music!!! Sierra and Roland are working together to develop an MT-board for IBM computers that will allow them to play the original stereo score by William Goldstein directly. The ST version will follow, but because of the ST's built-in MIDI ports, that wil be the avenue used by the games designers. The game itself is called "The Perils of Rosella" and takes you -- Rosella -- on a perilous voyage to save your ailing father's life. There's an introductory cartoon that sets the stage and it runs ten minutes! It's a b-i-g game and the graphics are getting better and better with each generation of Sierra games. Watch your back, Sonny Bonds! Jesse Bains, the Death Angel, has escaped and is out for revenge in "Police Quest II -- The Vengeance" from Sierra On-Line. Looks real good and due out (hopefully) before the fall. You want action? You want video arcade games on your ST. Well, in a surprise announcement, Taito ( pronounced "Tie-Toe") is releasing eight arcade ports over the next few months. Due out in July at a $39.95 retail price are Alcon and Bubble Bobble, while Arkanoid will accompany them at $34.95. Then in the fall will come Gladiator, Operation Wolf (a dynamite-- and gory -- first- person soldiering game), Qix, Rastan and Renegade, all at $39.95. Save up your quarters, gamers! =========================Atari News Update> ATARI PLANS MAJOR PUSH IN VIDEO GAMES Chicago, June 6, 1988--Atari Corp. will introduce 45 new video game titles, said Michael Katz, president of Atari's Entertainment Electronics Division, at the Consumer Electronics Show, according to the Reuter News Service. Katz said that Atari will continue its successful licensing program by signing licensing agreements with various computer game companies for successful games from other formats. According to Katz, 1988 industry sales are projected at $1.9 billion, up from $1.1 billion last year. ST NEEDS TO GET TOUGH ON BUSINESS T.R. Reid of the Washington Post calls The Atari ST a "powerful, easy-to-use, bargain-priced computer with dazzling graphics and formidable sound capabilities," but he raises some questions about the computer's ability as a serious business tool. WordPerfect, Reid said, is an excellent business application for the ST, "but beyond word processing, the Atari is not really a match in the business environment for MS-DOS or Macintosh machines." Reid is quick to point out that "it's not that the computer itself is incapable" -- just that the software companies that produce major league packages for MS-DOS and Mac aren't taking advantage of the power in the ST (with the exception of WordPerfect). On the other hand, he discusses such Atari-specific programs as the SideKick-like Partner ST from Timeworks, which puts a calculator, Rolodex, appointment calendar and other tools onto your ST desktop. He also cites ST ports (such as The Software Toolworks' Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing) that are better than their MS-DOS counterparts. Avant Garde's MS-DOS emulator, PC-Ditto, comes under fire in Reid's article. "Even compared with the performance of a rickety old IBM-PC," he says, "running MS-DOS stuff on the ST is a sensation akin to riding a tricycle in the Indianapolis 500." On the other hand, he calls Data Pacific's Magic Sac, which lets you run Macintosh software on the ST, a "somewhat more successful" effort. Reid feels that desktop publishing should be a natural for the ST -- the features required for desktop publishing happen to be the ST's strengths: "lots of memory, sharp graphics, a versatile laser printer." Reid likes the fact that the Atari laser printer has no built-in fonts or page- description software -- making the printer more versatile than many "smart" printers, and holding the price down as well. =========================New Products> Diamond(tm) Press Release Info Attention Atari XL and XE owners. REEVE Software, developers of the powerful News Station page layout software, will soon be releasing our powerful new graphics based operating system. It is called Diamond(tm) and when loaded into an XL/XE computer with 64K or more, gives your computer a complete graphics operating system similar to what GEOS(tm) has done for the Commodore 64. Diamond(tm) is our powerful new graphics based operating system. It allows your Atari computer to use the icon based point-and-click menu systems that are present on many of the more powerful systems today such as the Macintosh(tm), Amiga(tm), and Atari ST(tm), and better yet, is the fact that Diamond(tm) is not a single program that uses drop-down menus and icons, but rather an environment which mean there will be many more programs to come that are Diamond(tm) based. Diamond's(tm) features include: A mouse cursor which can be operated by the keyboard, a joystick, a touch tablet, or a mouse. It it definable in shape and its point of action can be changed (e.g. an arrows point of action would be its tip, and a crosshairs point of action would be its center. Drop-Down Menus that can have menu options activated and deactivated which is indicated by highlighting active items. Menu items can also have check marks placed and removed from them. These function are all handled by Diamond(tm). Desk Accessories which can be called up from any Diamond(tm) based program at any time. Icons that can be activated through a point-and-click system with a mouse. Icons can be shaped and moved all as part of our environment. Dialog Boxes that are virtually unlimited in design to allow the user to make easy selections that require anything from a simple yes/no response to anything one can think of. Windows that can be opened, closed, moved, and sized via simple software calls. ...and many more powerful routines that make up the Diamond(tm) environment. Most of what has been said up until now deals with Diamond(tm) as an environment, and is meant to let you know that Diamond(tm) is an environment that can easily be accessed by anyone that knows how to program, however, Diamond(tm) is intended to make computing more fun for those that do not know how to program, or even know how to use a computer. The primary purpose of an environment such as this is to make computing easy and enjoyable, and this is a user interface allowing people to communicate more easily with their computer. Diamond(tm) is scheduled for July release and includes our Diamond DeskTop software, which acts as a substitute for those select a letter and command oriented systems. It allows users to perform every standard DOS function via a simple user friendly command such as deleting a fil br dragging the file over to the trash can, and the user doesn't have to use the keyboard unless absolutely necessary as in renaming a file. Diamond(tm) DeskTop will also be compatible with Floppy Drives, Hard Drives, and Ram Disks as well as most Disk Operating Systems such as Atari DOS 2.5 and SpartaDOS(tm). We hope that Diamond(tm) becomes the new standard of operating environments for Atari 8-bit owners as we have designed it with excellent flexibility and power. Diamond which includes Diamond DeskTop and some additional programs and Desk Accessories will retail for $29.95 as will our other Diamond based products. Diamond should pump new life into your Atari 8-bit computer, and in order to put even more power into your XL/XE computer we have a complete line of Diamond(tm) based software such as: The Diamond Programmers Kit Explains how to program with Diamond(tm), and includes macros for Mac/65 and Basic source code to demonstrate how to use Diamond(tm). Also contains a resource builder to aid in the construction of drop-down menus, dialog boxes, and icons. It's what REEVE Software uses to develop our Diamond based programs. (August '88) $29.95 Diamond Write A full featured word processor that includes everything your come to expect from word processing on your Atari XL/XE and the ability to use multiple fonts and multiple text sizes in your documents. (August '88) $29.95 Diamond Paint A powerful paint program designed to allow you to paint fantastic art in an environment of drop-down menus and icons. (August '88) $29.95 Diamond Publish Finally, true desktop publishing for your XL/XE computer. Once your experienced Diamond Publish you wont give it up. Text flows from column to column, around pictures. Several fonts can be used in several different sizes. Multiple page documents in memory. (August '88) $29.95 Diamond Draw An object oriented drawing program so that images used in Diamond Publish will look smooth at any size. Draw squares, rectangles, circles, and use several different fill styles. (No release date set) $29.95 Diamond Basic A Basic language designed to take full advantage of the speed and power of Diamond(tm). (No release date set) $29.95 Diamond Asm A complete assembly language development system geared towards the Diamond environment. Allows for macros, conditional assembly, and more. (No release date set) $29.95 Diamond C A C language environment that will take complete advantage of Diamond's many powerful capabilities. (No release date set) $29.95 For more information on Diamond(tm) or to place orders contact: REEVE Software 29W150 Old Farm Lane Warrenville, IL 60555 (312) 393-2317 GEnie ID is REEVESOFT Compuserve ID is 71521,2200 *==========* OMNItech Software Proudly Introduces +-------------------+ | O M N I p r i n t | +-------------------+ Give Your OkiMate 10 The Quality Printing You Would Expect From An EPSON/Compatible Printer! Features Include: Choice Of Nine Different Printer Fonts Print Special ATASCII Characters....Great For Program Debugging! Prints In 60 Charater Lines...Wider Print Makes Easier Reading! Full Documentation Included ..... And Much, Much More! ...... ** System Requirments Atari 800, 800XL, 1200XL, 65XE, 130XE [ Or other with at least 32k ] OkiMate 10 Color Printer Atari Compatible Disk Drive List price: $15.95 For additional details, contact: OMNItech Software ATTN: OMNIprint c/o Jason Dickens 4712 Saguaro Drive Louisville, Kentucky 40229 =========================Oasis BBS Update> by Zin Marie Before I tell all about the new download directory for OASIS BBS, allow me to remind you that Z Innovators released a Public Domain (P.D.) version of OASIS BBS, called OASIS JR. OASIS JR. comes in two ARC files, and is available on GENIE, XBN BBS, and many fine BBS' in the United States and Canada. OASIS JR. is an excellent, all machine language BBS, that can be run from a single floppy disk, or all the way up to a hard drive system. On April 9th, 1988, OASIS BBS eliminated it's built in download listing directory, and replaced it with a module called DLBase. The file DLBase is 29 single density sectors long, and can be configured to display download files on most any drive and subdirectory setup. You can have as many DLBase modules in use on OASIS as you desire. The DLBase system is designed to allow you to totally customize your files listings. The DLBase system includes the DLBase module, a menu text file, a help text file, and a DLBase runner file. The DLBase runner file is a module called RUNDLB, and is 5 single density sectors long. You can set RUNDLB to check the user's level number before showing him your files menu. Your files menu is a text file that can be as large as 24 lines x 80 characters, or 1920 bytes. There are three support filenames within the RUNDLB module. You edit RUNDLB with a text editor. I heartily recommend TEXTPRO for editing OASIS modules. The three files to be named are your menu, DLBase, and RUNDLB. You name them whatever you desire. Your next step is to configure the DLBase module for your system. There is a line of drive numbers that you edit to tell DLBase which drives to look on, for downloads. You may use up to 8 drives, and enter their numbers in any order that you wish. Next, you want to customize your TYPEs and LANGUAGEs. DLBase uses the first two extensions in a filename for the TYPE and LANGUAGE of the file. You have 10 letters for each descriptive word, and a limit of up to 26 different TYPES and LANGUAGES. Numbers are also allowed, in addition to letters. DLBase has an option for using subdirectories, or NO subdirectories. If you choose subdirs, then you must name them in the DLBase file. The limit for each DLBase file, is 26 subdirectories. If you have more than 26 subdirs, then you can use two DLBase modules. The length of the subdir name cannot exceed 9 characters, but wildcards can be used. You can also tree the subdirs. At this point, all your editing and customization is done. The following is the mini menu that your users will see after they choose a file category:  |Filename |  |Type |  |Language |  |Level | [CR]|Listing | [Q] |Quit | [H] |HELP ME! | [M] |DL Menu | Your users are able to change the search parameters before listing the files. They can use wildcards in the filename. When they select LANGUAGE or TYPE, they will be shown a list of your LANGUAGES and TYPES. They also can list files at one certain level, which is controlled by the third extension in the filename. By hitting [H], they can view your HELP.TXT file. Once they are ready to list files, they simply hit [RETURN]. The DLBase module display is differnt for 40 column versus an 80 column user. DLBase adjusts automatically. For a 40 column display, DLBase shows two lines for each file. The information shown is, Filename, Language, Type, Date, Size in bytes, Level number, and download letter. Eight files are shown per page. Options available at each page are, [M]enu, [Q]uit, [N]ext page, [V]iew ARC, and [LETTER]. To download a file, the user hits it's letter. The same information is given to 80 column users, but instead they can see 12 files per page, and for each filename, the display shows one 80 column line. One SINGLE module easily handles displays for both 40 and 80 column support. The versatility of DLBase is what makes it a great new feature on OASIS BBS. You can run DLBase from any of 22 main menu options. DLBase can be set to allow only a certain level to see it'S files, which is a handy option for user groups. Users can list files by many different parameters. For example, if your subdir called NEW> has many differnt TYPES of files, a user can list only the GAMES. Showing drives in differnt orders is handy when your older files are on drive 6, and you want your listings to start with D7: and then go on to D6: If you are converting to OASIS from another BBS, the use of NO subdirs, and the use of wildcards in the subdir names allow you to run DLBase without re-configuring your download setup. If your old system used extensions for type an language, then DLBase can be set the same exact way. Lastly, the use of DLBase is so user friendly that users need no help to use it to it's fullest potential. Some new features were added to DLBase and are being tested on the OASIS support BBS and MANY OASIS beta testing sites around the country. New options are: Search all sub directories Search all new files since last logon. Select and De-select subdirectories for a search all. Search new files within a category. To order OASIS IV BBS, send $25.00 made payable to: Z INNOVATORS 1344 Park St. Dept. 187 Stoughton, MA 02072 For support and OASIS JR. download, call XBN BBS' at any of these numbers: 617-559-6844 617-767-0675 (PCP MABOS 2400 node) 617-767-0760 (PCP MABOS 2400 node) =========================ATARI SCUTTLEBITS> by Bob Kelly User Groups ....... It was a cold, damp night in Sunnyvale. The unusual weather had moved down from San Francisco, adding to the discomfort of the men sitting in the sumptuous living room. In one corner was Jack Tramiel, staring out the window as the ocean waves pounded against the beach. Sitting close to Tramiel, on a floor cushion not 10 feet away was Neil Harris with a copy of the Wall Street Journal in his lap. The headlines read "Tramiel buys Atari from Warner". Harris spoke rapidly in the fashion of a young reporter, "Gee whiz boss, we sure got some good press!" Jack Tramiel turned momentarily, smiled, nodded and continued looking out the window engrossed in his thoughts. Surely his thoughts were on the risk to his fortune now that he had bought Atari? How was he going to keep this company going until the still secret 16 bit line was out next year? Everything he had worked for was at stake but nothing appeared right at the moment. Across the room sat Sig Hartmann who had been with Jack Tramiel a long time. He was Vice President at Commodore and who knows what else where else. Sig put down his copy of Der Spiegel and said, "Jack, we're planning to cut costs as you ordered. Corporate employment will be only a few hundred people. Of course, a reduction in personnel creates other problems. Namely, who is to service the products we sell? The planned cutbacks eliminate what little customer support Warner provided to Atari owners. Further, there is no dealer network." A horrible thought flashed across Neil Harris' mind "could this mean a pay cut for me?" Jack Tramiel noting Harris' discomfiture smiled and suggested it would be nice if someone could get some sandwiches as he had not eaten since writing the check. Harris volunteered, took the order and walked out the door toward the waiting limo headed for Metropolis and the sub shop. Back in the house, Sig was alone with Jack and son Sam Tramiel. Nothing much was said for 20 minutes or so. Suddenly an idea came to Sig. He broke the silence, "One way we can keep people buying Atari products even though we have no customer service network is to utilize the existing Atari user groups." Jack turned in his chair, dropping hot cigar ashes on his pants. Sig went on ignoring Jack's smoldering trousers, "User groups have been galvanized through opposition to policies adopted by Warner. They have repeatedly stressed the versatility and power of the 8 bit computer with the public. We must sell the 8 bit inventory inherited from Warner to stay alive. Further, by gaining their support, we can move away from just a game machine company in the public's mind." Jack Tramiel continued to stare out the window but now thoughts raced through his mind. After about 2 minutes, he bolted from the chair dropping his cigar in his bourbon and water. He was belly to belly with Sig and shouted, "Yes, the user groups can help us sell the huge inventory of 8 bit products while Shiv has time to bring on the new 16 bit ST computer line. In fact, even after we start selling the 16 bit computers in the U.S., we can tell everyone to go to the user group for support". Jack was now into it. He turned and said to number one son, "This arrangement will reduce our financial requirement to service the products we sell while at the same time advertising how user groups are providing enhanced customer support to the new buyer. It's free except for some minimal outlay for a user group representative here at corporate headquarters. It will and must work!" Both men congratulated each other on the beauty of such a system. It was all so simple - service the public through involving the public. This was the answer to the liquidity trap. A greater share of Atari's financial resources could now be allocated to develop the next generation of 16 bit computers. Sam Tramiel had been quiet up to this point. He looked at both men and said, "This will work for a couple of years, then it will be time to pay the piper. In other words Dad, sooner or later, the user groups may need help as our corporate policies change and we move away from the 8 bit computer. What do we do then? They will expect our support ........" While the conversation above is fictious and events compressed, the corporate plan implemented by Atari was fairly close to what has been depicted. User groups did everything in their power to aid Atari's resurgence. User groups promoted the 8 bit computer line, explained to the public how Atari's corporate outlook had changed, and took on the task of being de facto customer representatives for Atari. After one year, inventory declined, cash flow improved, and everyone awaited the imminent arrival of the ST. In retrospect, one might say that 8 bit sales bought Atari the financial time it needed and user groups contributed to the success of this strategy. However, with the advent of the ST computer, corporate policies indeed changed, just as Sam Tramiel might have said. Atari has all but ignored 8 bit users and for the last year or so the priority of U.S. ST purchasers has declined. Atari's focus is the European market where ST sales are strong. But in Europe, there are few old-time users who remember the early days. The lack of attention on the part of Atari over the past year or more has taken its toll on U.S. user groups. Some have gone completely out of existence, some are just a shell, and others have witnessed a decline in numbers and/or participation. It is in Atari's interest to reverse this trend. What can Atari do? Well, there are two reoccurring themes in the responses to my queries of user group representatives: o Atari could make user groups the initial beneficiary of insider information on new product releases, bug fixes, and general hardware/ software support. This could be accomplished through bulletins and technical fact sheets made available to the designated officer of a user group. Another suggestion would be for Atari to provide technical summaries of GEnie files concerning important hardware/software modifications. Simply put, consistent communications creates a rationale for a user group - the transmittal of technical and product information to users. o Atari could develop a road show. Thousands turn out in selected cities when Apple technical types visit to show-off the new wares to the users in the provinces. Why can't Atari schedule 1 or 2 people for "a-month -on-the-road" each year with user groups demonstrating new hardware/ software as well as third party contributions. This might be much more cost effective in the long run than appearances at various Atarifests. One of the persons I asked for suggestions was the President of the Northern Virginia Atari Users Group, Georgia Weatherhead. While she was writing a response to my questions, the mailman deposited at her door a new Atari publication to be issued monthly. (This really happened, one day prior to submission of this column!) She immediately called Atari and found out that one copy will be distributed to each user group and the person responsible at Atari is Ms. Elizabeth Shook. The publication is located within the new computer division at Atari and Chuck Babbitt is its President. The initial issue is concerned solely with 16 bit computer information. I hope this publication will also recognize the needs of the Atari, non-games, 8 bit community. A substantial portion of the membership in the Washington, D.C. area operates 8 bit machines. In any event, assuming this new publication continues and the content is expanded incorporating more technical information, it will help user groups lure back old members as well as the needed new blood. Ultimate success depends on word being spread on club events to local Atari dealers, user group members actively recruiting, and even in some cases innovative publicity. After the shake down period for the Atari newsletter, the ball is in the user's group court. They better get ready. THIS IS AN EXCELLENT START BY ATARI. Congratulations. Most of the users felt strongly the "travelling road show" would be of immense value. This statement is qualified, of course, by the assumption that adequate local publicity precedes any visit by Atari officials. The road show has a number of advantages. It demonstrates to existing members the concern of corporate Atari. It has the potential for significant, immediate increments to user group membership rolls. It generates local media publicity favorable to Atari and, by implication, shows its concern for users to potential computer buyers. Needless to say I do not have all the answers nor even all the right questions. If Atari would like to join the dialogue, I would be willing to surrender all the space necessary for a response and/or alternative proposal(s). It's their call! User groups and Atari must have a better working relationship. That's all for now folks ........ =========================Express! Professional Programming Tips> The user-written modules have really started to roll in for use under Pro!. Unfortunately, the authors of these programs are not following the standards that we attempted to implement for BBS Express! Pro. This is probably mostly our fault, since we didn't really push hard enough on these standards in the BBS documentation. This document will hopefully teach you the proper way to write modules for use under Pro. All of the examples here will be written in Action; those of you writing in assembler will have no problem understanding and applying these rules to your assembler programs. Please place this file for download on your BBS system, and help us to distribute it as widely as possible. Keith Ledbetter -----------------------------------------------------Hard-coded filenames The thing that bothers us the most is that everyone writing external modules is hard-coding filenames, and then telling people to "recompile the program for use with your system". THERE IS --ABSOLUTELY-- NO REASON THAT ANYONE SHOULD EVER HAVE TO RECOMPILE YOUR CODE. THEY SHOULD SIMPLY BE ABLE TO COPY IT INTO THEIR COMMAND> SUBDIRECTORY, AND IT SHOULD WORK WITH NO FURTHER WORK BY THE SYSOP. This is the whole reason that the >DATA> subdirectory exists. The >DATA> sudirectory's whole purpose in life is to hold user-written module's data files. Not only that, but there is a SYSDATA global variable that tells you exactly what drive the >DATA> subdirectory is on. This global is called S_DATADR, and is an ATASCII value of '1' through '8'. For example, just using the two following lines of code, your program will run on ANY Express! Pro system with no changes needed by the sysop: ; Example code to open a "MYGAME.DAT" datafile on ANY Pro system ; -------------------------------------------------------------- Proc Load_data_file() Byte array Filename (0) = "Dx:>PRO>DATA>MYGAME.DAT" Filename (2) = S_DATADR ;put data drive in the filename Open (DISK, Filename, 4, 0) ...rest of code... Return That's all there is to it! Now, this piece of code will run on any Pro system, regardless if the sysop has 1 disk drive or 8. That's what the SYSDATA file is all about! In addition to the S_DATADR global variable, there are also variables to tell you what drive the message bases, userlog, commands, and file SIGS are on. Also, notice the way the above filename was defined with a ">" IMMEDIATELY behind the drive specifier. You MUST do this for all filenames that you specify. We have seen filenames like: "D2:game.dat" "D2:pro>data>game.dat" "D2:data>game.dat" NONE of these filenames are right. You can NEVER be sure what the "current default directory" of any disk drive is at the current moment. By placing a ">" immediately after the "Dx:", you are telling SpartaDOS to "start looking in the MAIN subdirectory, regardless of what the current directory is". While on this note, we have also seen programs that "refuse to run" if a specific data file isn't present. Why do that? If you don't find the data file that you need, why not just create it? This only takes a few lines of code, but it makes the sysop's life so much easier. Granted, if you are writing an application that requires a lot of data, then you won't be able to do this. But, if you are writing a game and then aborting out because you can't load the "high score" list, why not simply create one when you see that it doesn't exist? Exiting a Program by Chaining to MAIN.CMD ----------------------------------------- Another problem we have seen quite a bit is that almost everyone is exiting their programs by doing a chain to "MAIN.CMD" (ie: Chain ("MAIN")). Now, there is nothing wrong with this (I do it alot myself, too) but if you are going to do this, then you MUST make sure that the BBS is "currently active". For example, don't forget that your program could be ran by a sysop who has NOT logged onto the BBS, but rather did a "quick entry" into the DOS shell by hitting "8" from the "waiting for call screen". Now, there is nobody "logged on" to the BBS, but you are exiting to the "MAIN.CMD" command processor! This could be rather ugly! The ideal way to "exit out" of a program is to "drop out cleanly". That is, by hitting the "RETURN" statement in your Main() procedure. But, if you want to exit by chaining to "MAIN", then you need to make sure that your program ONLY runs if someone is currently logged on to the BBS system. You can do this by looking at the global variable named "BBS_Active". If this variable is ZERO, then nobody is logged on. This can easily be accomplished by these few lines at the top of your MAIN() procedure: Proc Main() Error = MyError ;point error vector to your routine If BBS_Active = 0 then ;nobody's logged on...abort! EchoSE("Sorry...this program may only be") EchoSE("ran when the BBS is active!") Return Endif ...rest of code... Return Where Did My Program Get Invoked From? --------------------------------------- There may be certain times that your application may need to know where it was invoked from. This can be found out by looking at the global variable named "Invoker". This single-byte value will always contain the keypress that invoked your program (only if it was invoked from the main Command prompt; if it was invoked by a "MENU" program, invoker will contain the key that invoked that MENU file). For example, MSGBASE looks at INVOKER to see if it is a "Q". If it is, a "quick scan" is done instead of the normal message base processing. Where INVOKER is mostly used is if you want to know (a) was it invoked from DOSshell, or (b) was it invoked by the Event Scheduler. DOSshell will always place a $D0 into INVOKER before loading an external command; the Event Scheduler will always place a $FF in INVOKER. Here are some small examples: ; This program only runs from the DOSshell ; ---------------------------------------- Proc Main() If Invoker <> $D0 then EchoSE ("This program must be ran from DOSshell!") Return Endif ; This program only runs from the Event Scheduler ; ----------------------------------------------- Proc Main() If Invoker <> $FF then EchoSE ("This program must be ran from the scheduler!") Return Endif ; This program will run anywhere EXCEPT the event scheduler. ; ---------------------------------------------------------- Proc Main() If Invoker = $FF then EchoSE ("This program can't be ran from the scheduler") EchoSE ("since it requires keyboard input!") Return Endif In Conclusion... ---------------- By following these few standards, your custom-written modules will be much more powerful and "sysop friendly". Don't forget - the ultimate goal for user-written modules is that ANY sysop can download it, copy it to their >COMMANDS> subdirectory, and then execute it without any further intervention. Study the global variable documentation carefully, and watch for some of our coding examples to appear on the Pro Support BBS (804-744-8897) soon. If you have any coding questions, help is justa phone call away! Keep those modules coming! Keith Ledbetter & Chris King Orion Micro Systems =========================Compaction Programs Revisited> by Marty Albert EVALUATION OF ARC, DISK COMM, AND ALFCRUNCH June 9, 1988 Well, here we go again. Another comparison of file compression systems for the Atari 8-Bit Computers. Frankly, the way things look from here, this may very well be the last such comparison done by me. (what's that? cheering?!?) This time, I've taken a look at ARC/ARCX 1.2, Disk Comm 3.2, and the new AlfCrunch 1.2 that has just started showing up. I've taken a very close look at them in fact, and I had more than a few surprises! First, let's see the test data, them my own editorial comments. Test Setup ========== All tests were done on the following system: 256K 800XL 1-1050 with US Doubler 1-meg MIO SpartaDOS 3.2d All of the source files were on the 1050 and the compacted files were written to the MIO RAM-Disk during creation. For recovery, the compacted files were on the MIO and the recovered files were written to the 1050. In all cases, the high speed option was enabled. In all cases, the computer was re-booted to get rid of all excess memory use between each creation and recovery. Recovery was always to a freshly formatted disk. The files use as source files were: SAVEd BASIC ------- 12078 bytes Binary Load ------- 13054 bytes Compiled T-BASIC -- 11877 bytes ASCII Text -------- 8740 bytes Atari Font -------- 1024 bytes Virtuoso Show ----- 6528 bytes MI Picture -------- 7684 bytes Daisy-Dot Font ---- 2307 bytes KOALA Picture ----- 1881 bytes RLE Picture ------- 6550 bytes ------ TOTAL 71723 bytes All byte counts were based on the numbers provided by the SpartaDOS 3.2d directory listing. Times were kept with a stop-watch and are as accurate as possible. Allow a +/- 3 seconds to the times. On ARC/ARCX and on AlfCrunch, the screen was OFF to speed up the processing. They were also run from a SpartaDOS BATch file and/or the command line input feature. On Disk Comm, the entire 256K of the 800XL was used. Test Results ============ The following chart is the results that I got with the test: PROGRAM TTM TTR SIZE % CHANGE ERRORS ----------------------------------------------------------- ARC 7:01 6:07 55630 -22.44% none AlfCrunch 1:37 0:57 50541 -29.53% none Disk Comm 3:53 1:36 66416 - 7.40% none Evaluation of Tests =================== ARC/ARCX Well, no big surprise here. ARC is slow, but does a wonderful job of compression. The compression of the files is not really all that big a deal for the local BBS, but for an on-line pay service like GEnie or CompuServe, that can be *very* important! Again, I failed to get the damage to the recovered files that has been so often reported. But, this is all old news. Disk Comm Again, nothing much different here, either. Disk Comm is much faster than ARC, but doesn't do much in the way of compaction. For the occasional boot disk, Disk Comm is probably the best way to go, but more on that later in my editorial comments. AlfCrunch All I can say is WOW! I've always said to those that don't like ARC that as soon as something better comes along, I'll go for it. Well, here it is! Not only is AlfCrunch faster than ARC/ARCX, it's *faster* than Disk Comm! And, to sort of add insult to injury for Disk Comm, AlfCrunch even compresses *better* than ARC! After I saw the above results, I went back and used AlfCrunch on many more files, 40 all told, and did not not get a single damaged file. I tried all sorts of files ranging from long BASIC XE programs to tiny little data files. They all worked fine after being processed and recovered. It looks very good, but again, more on that later. Editorial Comments ================== DISCLAIMER The comments here are my own. They are NOT the official position of anyone or anything except myself, nor should they be read as anything but opinion based on the above tests. I've always liked ARC. It may be slow, but it's good. Perhaps that's because as a SysOp on GEnie, I'm more aware of the costs in dollars for downloading big files. I also like Disk Comm. It's easy to use, reliable, and fast. It also does at least a little compaction, which is more than can be said for the other boot disk systems. I've never been happy with the light compaction, though, and I still think that a better way can be had. So, along comes AlfCrunch. At first, I thought it to be just another cute toy that someone had done. Was I ever wrong! When I ran the tests (by the way, AlfCrunch was the last one I tested), I was shocked by the speed. As you can see, AlfCrunch is far faster than Disk Comm. At that point, I figured that the compression would be light. When I did the directory and saw the byte count, I just knew that SpartaDOS had just shown me some hidden bug. I tried it a few more times, with the same results, and the file recovered into the right number and size of files, and they all worked! Needless to say, I was blown right out of the water! Then came the neat part. My ARCVIEW program works on the AlfCrunched file! I get some garbage characters in there, but it works. I think (not sure!) that this is due to the file header used. That remains to be seen for sure, though. The bottom line is this: For boot disks, keep on using Disk Comm. It's the best that we have right now. I'd like to see better, but who knows? For the files that you've been ARC'ing, have a look at AlfCrunch. As you can see, it seems to be far superior to anything else now available. One note about AlfCrunch. The DOCs are *very* complete, except that the author's name/address info is skimpy. What shows up in the DOCs is: Alfred Programmer's Aid BBS (416) 465-4182 I'd like to know just who this guy is! So, Alfred, if you're reading this, let us know who you are! Marty Albert GEnie Atari 8-Bit RT SysOp GEnie Mail address --- MARTY.A Suite 6-216 Box 4005 Carmichael, CA 95609-4005 =========================Carina II Review> by Larry Mihalik Carina BBS II Carina Software Systems Author: Jerry Horanoff Carina Software Systems introduced Carina BBS in 1986. It was built much differently than any other Atari Bulletin Board system, and promised to be expandable and easily modifiable. The program was structured in a module format, with each program approximately 16K and written entirely in Atari Basic. What made it even more unique, was that the programs required very few XIO calls to the modem. That's because Carina contained an operating system shell called MOE (short for Modem Operating Environment). Since MOE did nearly all the calls to the modem, and directed the I/O, the basic programs were free to run themselves, jumping from one program to another as the user selected functions of the bulletin board. There was no need to worry about maintaining a buffer, or using up valuable memory performing XIO commands. Carina seemed to be the perfect Atari 8-bit bulletin board system since modifications and expansion was truly possible and relatively easy. Carina has now introduced Carina II. This program is much larger than the original Carina, and more powerful. The system was designed for larger Atari 8-bit systems and provides for even more expansion than before. It's design concept is the same as the original, MOE is still there, along with the Atari Basic programs (the modules). One of the most notable changes between the two systems is the fact that Carina II is organized by SIG's (Special Interest Groups) making them more like small BBS systems in themselves. Each SIG has it's own: o Bulletin File This can be created, appended, or edited on-line, giving you the ability to provide for SigOps (SysOp of a SIG) who can really take a management role in the SIG. o Voting Poll Each SIG has it's own voting system of up to 26 questions, each question can have up to 26 separate responses. The vote polls only allow you to vote once, and keeps a running tally of the number of voters and the percentage of the voters selections by response. o Message Base The message bases are one of the most efficient and amazing functions of Carina II. Each message base will hold up to 255 messages before they are compacted automatically. Each message is numbered, date and time stamped, and contains a topic and a title. Carina II will allow you to search the message bases in a variety of ways: - TO/FROM a User - NEW - TO/FROM a Date - LAST (number) - TO/FROM a Date and Time - Number-Number - TRACE Forward for replies - ALL - TRACE Backward - Jump forward (number) - SEARCH Text - Jump Backward (number) Searching TEXT is one of the most interesting features, if you are looking for a particular word (for instance MIO.), Carina II will search all the messages in that SIG for that word. It is surprisingly fast and very reliable. o File Area Each SIG can have it own File area for uploading and downloading. Each file contains a text description identical to the message area and you can access the same commands in searching for files as you do for messages. One additional feature is that the file descriptions also contain KEYWORDS that were determined when the file was uploaded. These keywords then allow you to search for a file based on the type of file you are looking for. (Example: Object/Utility/Telecom) You can also just get a listing of all files by doing a directory, it includes no search facility, but all the other options are available. o Databases Each SIG has it's own Database area that will allow you to insert text files for on-line display to a caller. It is very easy to use and to build a Database/Library of files. A Database within a SIG can carry up to a maximum of 702 text files. o Sub-Program area The sub-program area is similar in structure to the database area, only it RUN's the program instead of display it. This would primarily be used for on-line games or utility files, and proves how easy it is to modify or expand Carina II. A basic program can be anything you want to create or adapt. The only real restriction is that the program be under 17K and be properly Trapped. Some Basic commands such as Graphics or Position and Sound statements should also be excluded. A sub-program area can carry up to a maximum of 702 programs. Did I lose you yet? If not, there is more. Assuming you have the space, a Carina II bulletin board can operate with up to 26 SIG's. You can decide what you want in each SIG when you configure your board. The only thing a SIG must have is a Database Area. You may want some SIG's with file area, others without, or some with sub-program areas, or only one with a sub program area. The choice is yours. Setting up Carina II This is the part I worried about the most, something this big should take hours if not days to get up and running. I warned my users, that there maybe a constant busy signal for a few days once Carina II arrived. When it did arrive, I was even a little more worried when I saw that it came on two disks with both sides used. I carefully read the manual (well okay, I scanned the manual), and prepared my self with a pot of coffee. The manual was excellent! It was freshly printed, (not copied) and stepped me through the set up process. It was organized by the type of equipment I was using, and allowed me to read only what was pertinent to my hardware configuration. One thing you should take note of is that Carina II REQUIRES SpartaDos 2.3 or greater, so this means you need a XL/XE computer to start with, and of course SpartaDos. I followed the instructions to the letter, creating my folders and my INIT.BAT and CARINA.BAT files. Since I was using the 1mb MIO. and 40meg hard drive, the actual preparation was easy. Copy a few (35) files and setup the BAT files and the process was complete. Still following the adage that nothing this big is that easy, I prepared myself for the worst. I ran the INIT.BAT file and all went smoothly, the files were properly copied to my MIO. Now came the big test, I ran the CARINA.BAT file and before I could say WOW!, Carina II was asking me for my configuration. I specified the drive locations for the various folders and data files, and determined if I was going to be using my printer, the maximum baud rate of my modem, and whether or not I wanted to have the MIO. to be backed up. I could create a BACKUP.BAT file that would be executed every hour to every 255 hours. After I completed the configuration the way I wanted it, I hit return and watched the BBS ask me questions about my Electronic Mail SIG. After completing the information for configuration of the Email SIG, the BBS rebooted itself and went into waitcall mode. I looked at my watch and could not believe that only 44 minutes had passed! I logged onto the BBS and followed the instructions on how to give myself SysOp access to the BBS. That's when I followed the instructions on how to pull down the Status Window. This is a Full screen utility that is invisible to the caller. I can edit their access right there and they would not even be aware of the action. So who said the Atari 8-bit can't multitask! The status window allows you to change all aspects of a users profile, and even includes the BBS header. Once I gave myself SysOp access, I was able to create new SIG's, create bulletin files and even Logon and Logoff screens with the on-line editor. The manual covered each function in detail and provided step by step instructions for each area. I created 7 SIG's right off, and I was amazed by the fact that I could rename, or edit the profile or functions of each SIG. There is no question that a lot of thought went into providing the SysOp with enough function to really control the BBS. When I was done, I had the BBS configured the way I wanted it, I had replaced the Carina II text files with my own, and the BBS was ready to receive callers. All this in 90 minutes! Other Features Carina allows you to define a user file that would be used for a callers initial profile when he logs on for the first time. Changing this would provide them with the time and access to SIG's that you want a new user to have. This is a nice feature, but what is even nicer, is you can create up to 10 of these user files. When giving more time on the BBS, you simply Edit the user (or access to a SIG), just read the user data file you want and his profile will be updated. The manual dedicates itself in teaching you the SysOp/SigOp commands. Carina II comes with a extensive built in HELP database, and a utility program to compile all the help files into a user manual for downloading. If that's not enough, it also includes an on-line SigOp manual for both on-line help and a utility for downloading as a manual. SigOp access is granted by SIG, so you can have a SigOp (or multiple SigOps) per SIG. A SigOp is basically a SysOp of his own little bulletin board within the Carina II BBS. A SigOp can: o Create voting polls o Edit the SIG's Bulletin File o Validate Uploads to the SIG o Give SIG access to a user (or take it away, or limit it) o Delete files or messages As with the original Carina, you can go to basic or DOS while on-line, and perform most of the functions native to these applications. This even includes executing basic programs, or copying files on-line. Carina II also offers the SysOp a built in terminal program for calling other systems. This is one feature that you are going to love with Carina II. Basically because of protocols for file transfer available with Carina II. The BBS supports the following file transfer protocols: o X-Modem CRC o X-Modem SUM o Y-modem o Y-Modem BATCH o C-modem o C-modem BATCH o ASCII C-Modem was developed for Carina II. You might say, just another protocol, but pay attention to this! C-Modem is a cross between Y-Modem and heaven. It transfers block sizes of 7.5K on a Carina II BBS (Y-Modem transfers at 1K blocks) and if an error occurs, it only goes back and replaces the errant 256 byte occurrence (Y-modem repeats the entire 1K block). File transfers are incredibly fast with C-modem and it will soon be available in a few PD terminal programs. Carina II offers a lot more: o Reset Facility that will reset the BBS once the Carrier is dropped o Full 40 and 80 column support o VT52 graphics (Atari ST) o Macro, Single letter or plain English command support o Login and message send by Account number o Technical reference manual and Technical support by phone Voice or BBS Conclusion If you read this far I don't have to tell you how great Carina II is in two sentences (but I will tell you anyway). This is by far the most powerful and modifiable BBS in the Atari 8-bit market. You will be impressed by it's speed and documentation. If you still are not convinced, give anyone of these BBS's a call: Carina II BBS 407-747-9196 300/1200/2400 The Lion's Den 312-690-3724 300/1200/2400 The Syndicate BBS 201-968-8148 300/1200 It is refreshing to see this kind of quality being produced for the Atari 8-bit! ________________________________________ ZMagazine Issue #110 June 13, 1988 (c)1988 APEInc. ________________________________________
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