Z*Magazine: 4-Nov-91 #199From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 10/03/93-03:33:55 PM Z
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From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG) Subject: Z*Magazine: 4-Nov-91 #199 Date: Sun Oct 3 15:33:55 1993 ==(((((((((( == Z*MAG/A\ZINE ATARI ONLINE MAGAZINE =========(( === November 4, 1991 =======(( ===== Issue #199 =====(( ======= ---------------------------------- ==(((((((((( == Copyright (c)1991, Rovac Ind Inc.. Publisher/Editor : Ron Kovacs Assistant Editor : Stan Lowell Contributing Editor: Bob Smith ----------------------------------------------------------------------- CompuServe: 75300,1642 GEnie: Z-NET Z*NET BBS: (908) 968-8148 BLANK PAGE BBS: (908) 805-3967 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- CONTENTS The Editors Desk.............................................Ron Kovacs 3-D Modeler For The 8-Bit....................................From F-Net What Is An 8-Bit Atari...............................Barton M. Bresnik Rumbles, Rambles, Rumors....................................Stan Lowell Adventures In Structured Programming - Part 1.............Michael Stomp Atari At Seybold..........................................Press Release Z*Net Newswire......................................................... Summertime Reads - Atariland Style............................Andy Eddy ======================================================================= * THE EDITORS DESK by Ron Kovacs ======================================================================= Is Z*Magazine saved??? For the time being yes... There are a number of articles we have received by the readers out there and it will keep us alive atleast until the end of the year. We are going to release weekly issues until further notice and see what types of download numbers we receive. For the latest Atari news I suggest you read Z*Net Atari Online Magazine, the sister of this magazine. It is released every Friday evening. For the latest PC related news and feature stories, read our newest publication Z*Net PC. Currently being released bi-weekly and going to a weekly format in January 1992. Please note that the end is still on the horizon. I really do not expect this online magazine to last forever. If the readers continue to provide material we will continue. We are looking for regular writers and if you are interested, please let us know! Thanks for the support! See you next week.... Release dates will remain on Tuesday evenings! ======================================================================= * 3-D MODELER FOR THE 8-BIT Captured from F-NET ======================================================================= ChromaCad(tm) 3-D Model Builder 91 program With the ChromaCAD Model Builder program, you can build any 3-D model you can dream of. You merely start at the bottom and draw the contour lines of the model as you work your way up. Add surface colours to the model as you draw the lines. You decide you many contour lines to use for each model (up to 158) and you decide the elevation of each line. Huge scrolling 32767 x 32767 graph allows you to construct contour lines as detailed as you want. Supports computer-assisted drawing of lines, circles, arcs, ellipses. Displaces models in contour-line form. With this program, you will be able to construct unbelievably sophisticated 3-D modelsers -- completely free-form, sculptured surface -- no "extrude" or "sweep" limitations. You will be able to construct models of human heads so accurately that when you display them with the ChromaCAD Surface Shader XE 91 program (described below), you will be able to recognize the subject from the model! ChromaCAD(tm) Surface Shader XE 91 program The ChromaCad Surface Shader XE 91 program can display any model constructed by the Model Builder program in surface-shaded format from any point of view, using up to three lights. Lights can be individually varied in intensity and individually set to strike the model from any direction. Models can be displayed in a variety of modes, including high resolution, colour, and 3-D stereo. Colours can be reassigned instantly without replotting the model. Up to 61K of computer RAM can be used for image display memory. Up to ten models can be individually oriented in 3-D space and displayed together to produce on compound multi-model scene. (Terrain model, Airport model, airplanes, cars, etc. combined to produce one compound multi-model scene.) The program also supports negative, mirror, and stepped-tone rendering, automatic clipping, highlighting, ambient lighting,, and inside viewing of models. View any model in 3-D stereo! (with included 3D stereo glasses.) Watch models virtually jump off the screen.. ChromaCAD(tm) Model Builder 91 program with 136 page illustrated, indexed manual (requires 48K Atari) - Order # 21...............$29.95 ChromaCAD(tm) Sufrace Shader XE 91 program with 69 page manual, 2 pairs of Stereo 3-D Glasses and sample Model Disk #1 (contains 10 models) requires 130XE (128K Atari) - Order # 35...............$29.95 If that sounded like a commercial, it's because it was! :-) If any Atari 8-Bit users out there are interested, or you know an Atari 8-Bit user that might be interested, here is the order information you need: American Techna-Vision 15338 Inverness Street, San Leandro, CA 94579 Write to this address asking for a catalogue and say what computer/model you own (say you saw this commercial on NANET). OR Phone 1-800-551-9995 for Visa/MasterCard ordering, or phone 1-510-352- 3787 if you have any other questions. (these are voice numbers and are the correct numbers...I just verified them myself). Say you saw this advertisement on NANET. There are several pictures of rendered images, and they are UNBELIEVABLE for an 8-Bit. They look much like Cyber series of software (Antic Software) in B/W. *Very* good. All this goes to prove that the Atari 8-bit is not hardware outdated, only software outdated. These programs are *very* good (from the output of them) and I intend to order them. ======================================================================= * WHAT IS AN EIGHT-BIT ATARI? by Barton M. Bresnik ======================================================================= You see a computer for sale at a flea market for only $50... is it useful or just a door-stop? Can you play games on an Atari 400? Program it in BASIC? Use it with a disk drive or tape recorder? Why is this guy selling it? The Background: Atari made a number of games using the 6502 microprocessor, including the 2600, 5200 and 7800. As the 6502 has eight address lines and performs arithmetic internally in eight-bit chunks, called bytes, it is termed an "eight-bit" microprocesor. Though the game machines have neither a keyboard nor any means of data storage other than cartridges which contain read-only-memory (ROM), yet they provided the experience for building a line of very capable home computers based on the same microprocessor. The Ataris are arguably equal or superior to the Commodores (Vic, 64 etc.) and Apples (][, ][c etc.), which use the 6502 and which are still in use in many schools. The genealogy of the Atari family begins with the 400, with plastic- membrane keyboard, and 800, with type-writermstyle keyboard, both with 16 kilobytes of random-access-memory (RAM). Additional RAM boards were usually added to expand this to 48 k. The operating system (OS) is contained in ROM and utilizes additional RAM, occupying about 16 k of address space. As the 6502 can address a maximum of 64 k, or 65,536 bytes using eight address lines, this leaves a maximum of 48k that may be "seen" by the processor at once, sufficient for a surprising variety of utilities and games. BASIC programming language and game cartridges plug into a slot under a little door on top. Note that these cartridges are NOT compatible with the 2600 game machine cartridges! The XL series has more RAM hidden beneath the OS, a smaller case, no cover for the cartridge slot, and a greatly reduced price. The 600XL contains 16 k (expansion boards are still available to bring it up to 64k), the 800XL and 1200XL contain 64k. The 600XL and 800XL also contain the BASIC language on ROM, freeing the cartridge slot. If you find a 1450XL, it may have some value to collector's, as very few, if any, were produced. Internally, the 65XE and 130XE and, confusingly, the XE Game Machine are similar to the XL series; the 65XE and Game Machine having 64k and the 130XE having 128k. To fit the extra memory into the 130XE (and into compatible expansion boards for the XL series), a 16k block of memory is switched with other, unused, blocks so that the 6502 never sees more than 64k at once. Needed Equipment: In addition to an eight-bit computer, you need a monitor or television, either color or monochrome; the monitor providing a somewhat sharper image. The computer provides both RF output on TV channel 2 or 3 and composite video output to a monitor (which has two RCA 'phone jacks in back). To record documents for word-processing, to load programs written in BASIC or to play commercial games, you also need a disk drive or program recorder. The early 810 drive is large, noisy and cannot read some disks without internal modification to the drive. The 1050 and XF551 read and write progressively more data to disks, to 360 k for the XF551. The 410 and 1010 recorders are usable, but MUCH less convenient and reliable than even the 810 drive! The BASIC cartridge is needed for programming and many games in the 800 and 400, but not in the XL and XE series. Alternatively, get the BASIC XE cartridge for the XL and XE machines for one of the most complete versions of this language. All eight-bits also use standard joysticks and "paddle" (knob) controllers, and can be programmed to read a track-ball, but do not recognize a mouse. Graphic tablets such as the Koala-Pad are also available. Other Peripherals: The eight-bit computers do NOT have standard RS232 prts for serial or parallel communication. Printers may be designed specifically for the Atari (such as the XMM801 dot-matrix or 1027 "ink-roller" types from Atari or the Alphacom 42 thermal printer) or standard parallel and serial ports are available from interfaces, such as the Atari 850 or the P:R Connection. The 1020 plotter is an amazing device for its price (under $20!), able to produce four-color graphs and alpha-numeric characters on 4.25 " roll paper; replacement pens and paper are available from Radio Shack. Modems include the SX212 1200 baud model, which can directly connect to either an eight-bit or ST. For most purposes, the older 300 baud models may be too expensive to operate. Other "external" modems can connect to the P:R Connection or the 850 interface. Software: So... you found an eight-bit Atari... How are you going to use it? Word-processing is the most common use. Although you can only see 38 to 40 characters per line, the large text is easy to read. I actually prefer typing straight text (as opposed to desk-top-publishing) on my 800XL, rather than my ST. Word-processing programs on disk include AtariWriter Plus (my favorite; it even can alphabetize, which my ST programs cannot do) and Speed-Script. AtariWriter cartridges are instant-loading, ideal for the dedicated word-processor. VisiCalc and other spread-sheets are ideal as a teacher's rank book or the family budget. The Atari BASIC language provides an ideal environment to learn programming, though there are some "bugs" in two versions of Atari BASIC which may cause problems when writing a program. The 'C' language is available as shareware; it produces rapidly-executing programs which may be ported to other computers, even mainframes. Assemblers, from Atari, OSS and other software suppliers, allow you to program directly in the language the 6502 understands, for greatest speed. A simulation by John Horton Conway called "Life" which I interpreted for the Atari runs 800 times faster in machine language (which is produced by the assembler) than in BASIC! An incredible number of games have been released for the Atari, many available as both disks and cartridges. Some games may be halted in mid-play and saved to disk, to be resumed later. Both Atari and Parker Bothers have versions of chess (the Parker Brothers' rulebook is particularly well written). Other educational games are available. Graphic programs, such as Fun with Art from Epyx, allow you to doodle or create a scene for a game of your own design (as I used FWA to create my simulatin, "Ecologian"). In Conclusion: The Atari eight-bit computers are still a viable tool, not only for learning about computers, but for many tasks. As people abandon their old "toys" for new ones, many of these computers have become available at bargain prices. I hope one can provide you with as much pleasure and utility as I am getting from my 800XL. ======================================================================= * RUMBLES...RAMBLES...RUMORS... by Stan Lowell ======================================================================= Z*Mag to end publication? ------------------------- In a recent issue of Z*Net, Ron Kovacs stated that Z*Magazine would cease publication with issue #200. Will this come to pass? Only time and YOU, the reader will make that determination. Whats the problem? It is the same problem that nearly ALL editors of user group newsletters face as each deadline date approaches. Reader support, or lack of it. Life is a little easier for a publication that can actually pay their authors (How many of those are still around). Those that can't, find it difficult at times to get it together every month. Another problem seems to be one of distribution. Many "potential contributors" may not know about Z*Mag or know that we resumed publication late last year! This came about because a user in another city made a remark (on my Networked 8-bit message base) after I mentioned Issue #200 being the "last" one. None of the boards in his city carried Z*Mag and he didn't know it had resumed publication! One of the suggestions offered on the FoReM-XEP Network was that Z*Mag go to quarterly publication. Ron and myself ARE seriously considering this suggestion. It *may* be viable if we get enough material uploaded to us. Contributing to Z*Mag is a GREAT way to get advertising and recognition for your user group and/or yourself! More importantly, you are sharing your hobby and enjoyment with others. As I write this, there have been promises of material from some, so the jury is still out, but there is hope! In MY OPINION, if your Newsletter has *ever* re-published material from Z*Magazine, you should give something back. If you have read Z*Magazine and enjoyed it, how about contributing something to it? We can NEVER have too much material! There are things happening in the Atari 8-bit world. I see little posts here and there on various bulletin boards alluding to new Shareware and new "commercial" software from across the oceans, tips, hints, tricks, ideas, etc. As you can tell from the sporadic issues of Z*Mag the past year, I don't have the time to continue searching and hunting for fresh material. So, we are throwing it out to you, the readers. If you want us to continue publication, help us. We are YOUR magazine. Z*Magazine, support it or loose it. When readers asked Ron to resume Z*Mag last year, he asked if I would help with the effort by doing an article or column, I said that I would do my best, but couldn't make any promises. I have spent many hours with a modem looking for fresh material and getting permission to publish the material in Z*Mag. I thank those who gave permission, especially those who have called and uploaded material to us. Lost, but not forever! ---------------------- Somewhere between here and Publisher Ron Kovacs, my last article got waylaid. No problem, I will just re-upload it! Wrong! Murphy's law strikes again! My disk with ALL my information for future articles, past articles, and *that* article...got totally hosed up! So, what follows is as much as I can piece together from memory. ANSI for the Atari 8-bit? ------------------------- The shareware author of the Atascii Emulator for the PC world, Robert Sinclair, has been busily working on an "Ansi emulator" terminal program for Atari 8-bits. Apparently, a 'beta' version is around. There are a few wrinkles to iron out before its final release. Reports I have gotten indicate that it really works (with some limitations)! R-Time 8 Battery - Practice What I Preach Dept. ----------------- My battery went 'nutso' a few weeks back. I dug out the article on replacing it, threw caution to the wind, and did it! It works just marvie! Thanks again to Jonathan Mordoski (SysOp - Atari Computer User's Technical Exchange, 215-261-0620)! Of course I ended up getting a different battery because I left the battery number at home...sigh. Other New Things ---------------- Bob Klass of K-Products is now selling a 'SpartaDos utility package' of utility programs for both MIO and Black Box owners. The following messages are captures from the repair BBS describe the utility package. Message: 2(#16773) Title: New 8-Bit! Author: Sysop*Bob To: All Posted: Mon 8-Jul-91 at 7:52:00am Replies: 0 There are a few programers out there still supporting the Atari 8-Bit user. Just released are DK-Utilities by Dan Knauf, who released all rights to K-Products, 4267 W. Midway Dr., Salt Lake City, Ut 84120, (801)-967-7400. DK-Utilities is a set of utility programs intended for use with Sparta Dos, the Black Box, and at least one hard drive. These utilities can all be used from the Sparta Dos command line. They have been written in two forms Com files and Command files (for BBS Express! Professional Sysops), and are available on the Repair Shop BBS 801-967-8738 in the online store, price $10.00 plus s/h. The disk contains the following files. BBFIG.COM -> You can load and save the the main configuration table for the Black Box or MIO to/from a disk file. BLOCK.COM -> Allows you to lock, unlock or check the status on hard drives connected to the Black Box or MIO. BOOTMENU.COM -> Is a bootup menu program for Sparta Dos users. It provides a menu of up to 32 single Sparta Dos commands to be executed by a single keypress. BPART.COM -> Is a program to load, save and print partitions lists for the Black Box from the Sparta Dos command line. This effectively eliminates the 96 partition limit for the Black Box users! BSWAP.COM -> This allows you to swap the drive assigns in the configuration table to either the Black Box or the MIO interface from the Sparta Dos command line. DMENU.COM -> Allows you to enter either the Black Box menu or the MIO menu from the Sparta Dos command line. FLUSH.COM -> This will flush the print spooler on the Black Box. LF.COM -> Turns on/off the line feed option on either the Black Box or MIO. PR.COM -> Turns on/off printer port works only on the Black Box with any DOS. RS.COM -> Turns on/off RS232 port works only with Black Box, but with any DOS. SOUND.COM -> Turns on/off the sound works only with Black Box, with any DOS. SPOOLER.COM -> Works with any DOS but only with Black Box and computers with extended memory. Turns the printer spooler on/off. WHO.COM -> Works just like Sparta Dos's HUH.COM only WHO works with either the Black Box or the MIO, shows the status of all drives on the system. If you are using the Black Box, the Hard Drive partition names are listed after the drive assigns data. Hope several of you find Dan's efforts useful... Bob Klaas (3/250+) ATARI 8-BIT: If you are the owner of either a BB or an MIO, have a hard drive and/or run a BBS, this looks like a very useful package to me! BobTerm 1.21 ------------- After hearing about version 1.21 of BobTerm for months, what follows is the Update.txt from the archive. Let me mention that this program is *NOT* FREEWARE, it is Shareware! This means if you try it, like it, and USE it, you *should* send the requested donation to the author. If a program is 'good enough' for you to use on a regular basis, it is good enough to have the donation sent to the author, whomever it may be! BobTerm has long been acclaimed as one of the best full featured terminal programs for the Atari 8-bit. On to Bobterm! Changes from version 1.10 include 15 bug fixes and 37 enhancements and modifications! Some things are gone, having been replaced by new things. (UPDATE.TXT - Reprinted with permission.) The following is a list of changes from version 1.10 of BobTerm to the current 1.21 version: Bug Fixes: ---------- 1. Connects at 19200 Baud within the dialer will no longer switch down to 1200. 2. The delay between redials has been increased to work with a wider range of modems and settings. 3. The line editor now allows full ATASCII cursor editing (editing filenames, macros, etc...). 4. The first character of a macro may be any character, including a pause. 5. ATASCII<->ASCII protocol translation with MIO problem fixed. 6. FModem upload to FoReM boards finally fixed. 7. A couple bugs that caused the header and first blocks of each file in a batch transfer to be repeated were tracked down and fixed. 8. Obscure XModem padding problem fixed. 9. Fixed various lockup points when using the MIO. 10. When saving the capture buffer, a disk error now causes an error message to be displayed (none was shown before). 11. RAM-based OSes may now be used. An example of this is the HAPPYXL program that gives high speed data transfer with modified 1050 drives. 12. A lockup problem occurring when capturing and using the XEP driver was fixed. 13. The filename entry prompt for a full capture buffer makes sure the name you enter is good before saving (it used to just erase the buffer). 14. Doing a COPY <file> E: in the command processor interface for SpartaDOS 3.2 now works. 15. The 835/1030/XM-301 modem handler has been re-written to properly tone dial, as well as respond with the proper messages in the proper timing. 16. Dialing manually drom the dialer no longer unmarks the highlighted entry, and will not perform any automatic logon. Enhancements/Modifications: --------------------------- 1. The non-batch receive protocols are self-adapting, in that they will automatically adjust to the sender's protocol (If you select a CRC protocol). 2. Protocol sends are slightly faster. 3. The FAST CIS XMODEM receive protocol now supports 1k block sizes. I suggest you use the 1k block sizes (by specifying the protocol to CompuServe with PRO:X1K), as it causes the data stream to be continuous. 4. In the batch file selection area, pressing "A" at a file query will mark ALL the rest of the files in the directory mask you have entered. This saves having to hold "Y" for all the entries. 5. Separate pathnames are stored in the config for upload, download, and capture. This saves having to type the path all the time. 6. Separate upload and download default protocols. 7. Spaces are inserted between successive RETURN characters in ASCII Sends, so your formatting will be preserved in message editors that normally 'eat' the blank lines. 8. Fine Scrolling is now available. Use Shift Control S to toggle. Its status is saved in the system config. 9. The Word Wrap flag is now saved in the system config. 10. Parity is now supported. Use the VT-52E for Even, VT-52O for Odd, and ASCII for No parity. Vidtex has not been eliminated, use the VT-52O for CIS Vidtex emulation. 11. The VT-52 emulation is more compatible with VT-100, ANSI, and a few other emulation modes. It does not support the entire VT-100 command set, but its better than it was before. 12. The timer/clock will keep the proper time on 50Hz PAL systems. 13. Internal BASIC is automatically disabled for all DOSes. This took some serious probing into SpartaDOS to make work. Also, OSS carts are also disabled under all DOSes except Sparta. 14. The Dialer's Print List option has been removed, and the buffer size has been decreased by 256 bytes. This had to be done to make room for the new features. If you wish to make a hardcopy of your dialing list, you may use an older version of the term for this. The dialing list format is the same. 15. The Capture buffer may now be viewed before it is saved. The view function is accessed by the [C] command from the main term menu. 16. The TONE/PULSE selection was moved from the main menu to the dialer, where it was actually used. 17. The modem's result messages returned when using the dialer are now displayed. (BUSY, NO DIALTONE, etc...) 18. The dialer now depends upon the modem's result codes rather than the carrier detect signal, and so should work with just about any hayes- compatible modem, regardless of configuration (the messages have to be returned in verbal as opposed to numeric). 19. The dialer now has an option of sending the first macro upon connection. This can be used for automatic logons. I suggest adding one or two Control Ps in the beginning of the first macro to account for the time needed for the other modem to properly connect. 20. The Long Distance code feature now supports the ability to embed the BBS number within the LDX code. See the main documentation for information. 21. When a DOS function is completed, you are returned back to the DOS Functions menu. 22. The DOS Functions have been assigned letters instead of numbers, the letters corresponding to the same ones used by DOS 2.x. This should make operation friendlier and easier. 23. The Command Processor interface for SpartaDOS now has a feel much more like the real DOS. 24. The ability to copy a single file is now available in the DOS functions! 25. The Atari 850 Interface handler is loaded every time; you don't have to power it down prior to coldstarting. 26. Any handler BobTerm loads will be unlinked when the term is exited. This should prevent random lockups that happened with various DOS and handler combinations. Note: it is recommended you use the [Q]uit command to exit the term, rather than pressing RESET. 27. The Control 1 function to start/stop printing may now be used in the View a file, View capture buffer, and command processor interface functions. 28. The macro processor has been enhanced with two new functions: a Control D will cause a 1/2 second delay. This is useful for generating the HHH sequence for logging on to GEnie. 29. A Control N in a macro will cause it to link to the next macro. Thus, you are no longer limited to 31 characters in a macro! Note that neither the Control N nor the RETURN that follows it will be sent. 30. The curly brace characters in the Ascii character set are translated to Control A and Control D characters (for open and close). The braces may be sent by pressing the same keys. 31. The chat buffer may now be sent without a RETURN at the end. Type an ESC prior to hitting RETURN. (Note: version 1.21 fixes a bug in 1.20 that would not let a space be the last character before the ESC.) 32. The $7F character in the Ascii character set is now ignored. This serves no useful function, and caused problems on GEnie. 33. Attract mode is disabled while the dialer is busy dialing numbers. 34. The messages on the top status line have been enhanced. 35. The term screen is displayed while using a transfer protocol. It was found that BobTerm could keep up with 19200 Baud transfers with the screen fully on; so the top three lines indicate the transfer status, and the rest of the screen displays the term screen. Note that any bad bytes received while in the transfer are sent to the term screen, so if you start a transfer while the other side is still sending, you will be able to see the incoming data. 36. The BOBTERM.CNF file is now larger, and is not compatible with config files created by older versions. Delete any old config files you may have. 37. The ST-specific VT-52 color setting commands are now ignored instead of being displayed. That's all I have documented that was changed. Its possible that there may be a couple minor things that have slipped past me. Please be sure to read the main documentation for more detail on the enhancements. When uploading BobTerm to a BBS or giving it to a user, upload the whole ARC file, or make sure the disk contains ALL the data files unaltered. Thank you. Bob Puff 04/27/90 Suite 222 2117 Buffalo Rd Rochester, NY 14624 CompuServe Mail: 76702,1076 GEnie Mail: BOB.PUFF Computer Software Services(CSS) has moved since Bob Puff acquired sole ownership. The NEW voice phone number is: (716) 429-5639. Their BBS number is still the same: 716-247-7157. Until next time! If you would like to submit a review, article, or a rebuttal (ANYTHING is welcomed!), feel free to upload to myself or Z-NET Online BBS. I can be reached on my BBS (908-805-3967), GEnie(S.LOWELL), and on Z*Net Online BBS(908-968-8148). Both of us are PCP node: NJNBR Starlink node: 3319 SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL USER GROUP! SUPPORT ShareWare Authors and others who write for the Atari 8-bit! Support Z*Magazine! Support THOSE who support YOU! ======================================================================= * ADVENTURES IN STRUCTURED PROGRAMMING - Part 1 by Michael Stomp ======================================================================= I. ERROR FREE INPUT The basic idea of structured, or top-down, programming is that one breaks a program down into modules that are relatively self-contained and produce a single, easily defined, result. Then each module is further broken down into other modules, and so forth until one reaches rather simple operations that can be used throughout the program. This produces code that is clean, logical, and easy to read and modify. Depending upon the language one uses, these modules are called subroutines, functions, or procedures, and are an integral part of programs written in C, ACTION!, or an extended Basic like BASIC XL/XE or TURBO BASIC XL. The syntax may vary form language to language, but the ideas remain the same. One can think of these modules as 'black boxes' with one entry point and one exit point. If the conditions upon entry and results upon exit are clearly defined, the insides of the 'box' are immaterial -- at least at the level of program design in which they are used. What is important is that each module 'completes a thought'. However, handling error conditions that may arise can get a little tricky. The last thing you want to do is to just jump off to some error handling section, as that will take you out of the well-structured program logic, with no way to get back. In such cases, the best one can usually do is to restart the program from the beginning -- not at all satisfactory to the user. No, if the module is to be a 'complete thought', any errors that may occur within a module should be handled within the module. As an example of this, I want to present a simple module for the input of numerical values. This example is in TURBO BASIC XL, but can easily be translated into other languages. The 'complete thought' that we want this module to perform is this: when calling the module, a string containing the prompt to be printed is passed, the module gets the input from the user, and does not return a value until it gets a legal value, which is returned. Period. That's it. PROC VALUES DO ? PRMPT$; TRAP #BADVALUE:INPUT S:TRAP 0 EXIT # BADVALUE:? CHR$(253) LOOP ENDPROC (I didn't include any line numbers, although they are needed when you enter the code, because they are immaterial. Use any line numbers you want; the program doesn't use them.) The essence of this routine is the 'infinite' loop bounded by DO...LOOP. The only way out of this is via the EXIT command, and one only gets to it if a legal numeric value in input. If something other than a legal number is typed, the INPUT S command will produce an error, and the TRAP command directs control to the line labelled #BADVALUE, where the console speaker is beeped and the program goes around the loop again. The TRAP is turned off immediately after the INPUT S statement, since one does not want an error somewhere else in the program to dump one into the middle of this procedure! One uses this procedure by a call like: PRMPT$= "Altidude, in feet" EXEC VALUES: ALTITUDE= S (Don't forget to DIMension PRMPT$!) While functional, this procedure has some drawbacks; one is that repeated bad values will result in the prompt being printed down the screen, which will cause the screen to scroll and mess up the whole appearance of the thing. We can cure this by passing along the location to print the prompt. (I like to pick a single line on the screen and put all prompts there.) Another drawback is that it doesn't do any real checking on the input. We can remedy that by passing along the legal range for this value. And, I like to include a default option, one the user can select by just pressing RETURN. This default can be almost anything, but let's implement one in which RETURN means 'keep the present value'. The 'improved' version looks like this: PROC VALUES DO POSITION CLMN,ROW:? BLK$ POSITION CLMN,ROW:? PRMPT$; INPUT A$ IF LEN(A$)=0 EXIT ELSE TRAP #BADVALUE:SS=VAL(A$):TRAP 0 IF (SS>=LR AND SS<=UR) THEN S=SS:EXIT ENDIF # BADVALUE:? CHR$(253) LOOP ENDPROC One needs to DIMension a couple more strings here: BLK$ is a string full of blank spaces -- enough to clean off one screen line. (I always like to keep a BLK$ handy in a program; it can come in useful many places.) A$ must be long enough to hold any input typed. CLMN and ROW hold the column and row where the prompt is to be printed. LR and UR are the lower and upper ranges of legal values for the variable being inputted. SS is a temporary variable to hold the value typed in until it is checked to see if it legal or not. One calls this procedure by something like: CLMN=5:ROW=15:S=ALTITUDE PRMPT$="Altitude in feet" LR=0:UR=1000:EXEC VALUES ALTITUDE=S Notice that one must preset S to the old value since it will not be changed if the default is chosen -- RETURN pressed. The reason A$ is used for the input is so a simple RETURN can be used for the default -- anything is legal in string input! A string length of zero means only RETURN pressed. Now the TRAP surrounds the VAL command, where the input is converted to a number. An error here will mean the input was non- numeric. And finally, the number input is checked against the legal range, and rejected if it is outside that range. The first EXIT command is where the default is implemented; doing nothing means keep the old value, but there are other possibilities one can use here. One I have used is to have the program pick a random value within the range. You can do this by replacing the EXIT by: S= LR+RAND(UR-LR):EXIT Other possibilities should occur to you, should your program have some special needs. Happy computing! ======================================================================= * ATARI AT SEYBOLD Press Release ======================================================================= Professional Systems Group -------------------------- A division of Atari Computer Corporation NEWS RELEASE Contacts: Harry Miller SEYBOLD BOOTH NUMBER 942 Public Relations Counsel (510) 938-5663 Office (510) 939-5655 Fax Bill Rehbock (408) 745-2082 Office (408) 745-2083 Fax FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PROFESSIONAL SYSTEMS GROUP SHOWS NEW HIGH QUALITY, DIGITAL PUBLISHING SOLUTIONS AT SEYBOLD SHOW "Direct To Press" Products Offer Added Features, Speed, Quality Compatibility With Existing Standards Makes New Platform The Logical Alternative Sunnyvale, California - September 23, 1991 -- The Professional Systems Group, a division of Atari(tm) Computer Corporation, will show its Direct To Press digital publishing solutions at the Seybold Publishing Conference and Exposition on October 2-4 in San Jose. At their booth, the Professional Systems Group will demonstrate the irrefutable logic of choosing their TT030 computer as a publishing platform. Each of the pre-press solutions possesses clear advantages over the existing competition. Those advantages are manifest in a richer feature set, quicker speed of operation, and in visibly higher output quality. As if that weren't enough, the Direct To Press systems are affordably priced compared to other alternatives. Direct To Press systems provide output quality one would expect from much more expensive dedicated typography system. Direct To Press includes full-featured, high quality, and high performance tools for every phase of pre-press work from document processing ans design to photo retouching and imagesetter film output. Direct To Press is a solution provided by the Professional Systems Group. This solution combines software, hardware, and support to implement a superior publishing system. Design and typography output workstations take advantage of the sophisticated graphics and pure processing power of the Atari TT030(tm), the company's high performance computing platform. Available as custom configurable systems, Direct To Press is targeted at pre-press and printing service bureaus and in-house design and productions departments, as well as freelance designers, artists and publishers. Systems based on the Direct To Press products and concept are distributed through a network of value-added resellers and dealers. Publishing System Hardware Platform The Atari TT030 provides the ideal computing platform for the Direct To Press publishing tools. It features a 32MHz Motorola(tm) 68030 microprocessor with on-chip cache and memory management as well as a 68882 math coprocessor, 8MB of RAM (expandable to 26MB), and 80MB hard disk, and a wide range of video and storage expansion options. Output for proofing purposes is provided by the 300 dot per inch Atari SLM605 (tm) laser printer. The SLM605 features a small footprint, high quality output, and fast 6 page per minute operation. The TT030 performs even better in graphics-intensive applications than the specifications would indicate. Several factors help explain this phenomenon. First, the machine's architecture vastly reduces screen redraw time by using a 64-bit wide video data path. Next, the TT030 uses DMA (Direct Memory Access) channels for disk, video, printer, and sound data transfer. And, up to 10MB of video RAM can be used. These hardware advantages are leveraged by an operating enviroment that minimizes overhead without sacrificing ease of use or power. "We designed the TT030 to be a great platform for sophisticated publishing applications," said Greg Pratt, Atari Computer Corporation. "But the performance and output quality that our strategic software and hardware partners have achieved makes these systems a compelling choice. When you consider that most system selections are based on output quality, speed of operation, ease of use, and affordability, we really are 'the logical alternative.' You can't afford not to look at the TT030 and the Direct To Press system solutions." Three Software Product Families Meet a Broad Range Of Needs The Direct To Press solutions generally follow one of three complementary approaches: Soft-Logik's PostScript(R)-based PageStream(R) 2 provides direct compatibility with that industry standard. The Calamus(R)SL and tms Cranach Studio(R) family of high-end publishing applications, including proprietary SoftRIPS(R) for specific models of typesetters and imagesetters deliver a wide range of features and fast performance. And the ReTouche Professional(TM)/Didot Professional(TM) family of digital lithography, line art, and page layout tools uses proprietary hardware technology to create raster images of pages within the host software, eliminating the need for an external RIP, and uses specialized hardware to greatly enhance output speed and quality. Files can be easily exchanged among the tools, and with many other industry- standard desktop publishing programs: The TT030's floppy disk format is identical to that of MS-DOS, so data files on floppies can easily be transferred. Similarly, file transfer can be accomplished via an Ethernet network. Most of the applications can import and export files from popular applications on other platforms. Professional Systems Group is a new division of Atari Computer Corporation whose mission is to provide superior computing solutions for vertical market segments where output quality and execution speed are the highest concern. Professional Systems Group combines its computing platforms with high performance software and peripherals to meet and exceed the needs of these demanding audiences. Atari is a registered trademark, and TT030 and SLM605 are trademarks of Atari Corporation. Motorola is a trademark of Motorola, Inc. PageStream is a registered trademark of Soft-Logik Publishing Corporation. Calamus SL and Calamus Outline Art, Calamus SoftRIP are registered trademarks of DMC/Ditek International. tms Cranach Studio is a registered trademark of tms GmbH. PostScript is a registered trademark of Adobe Systems. ReTouche Professional CD, Didot Professional, ad the Image Speeder are trademarks of 3K Computerbild. ======================================================================= * Z*NET NEWSWIRE ======================================================================= ATARI DOES SEYBOLD The Direct to Press division of Atari Corporation made another impressive presentation at the SEYBOLD Electronic Publishing Show, a 20,000 square foot show in two halls held this week in San Jose, California. This is the first time in two years that Atari has attended this publishing show. The range of DTP solutions plus electronic imaging and lithographic preparation for press included Pagestream, Calamus, Codehead Software, and the wide 3K line of products. According to reports from early in the show, floor traffic was light due to exceptional conference presentations, but the Atari area was well attended. Most show-goers to this internationally renowned publishing trade show are getting used to seeing Atari now, and the demonstrations of state of the art systems at reasonable prices seem to be well received. See the press material from Atari for Seybold, later in this issue of Z*Net. ROLAND IMPRESSED, ATTENDING ALL ATARI SHOWS Astounded by the great reception and product sales at the Glendale Atari show in September, the keyboard and music hardware giant ROLAND is planning to make Atari show appearances a regular thing. Company reps have asked Atari to advise them of any and all user and trade shows that will feature Atari products, and have booked a display at the upcoming WAACE AtariFest in the D.C. area in mid October. Expect them again at the Chicago Atari Fair in November. Groups that are planning shows should be certain to coordinating their work through Bob Brodie at Atari Corp in order to assure that Roland and other interested developers know of the event. Call Bob at 408-745-2052. NEW CD TITLES FOR ATARI AS CDAR505 NEARS Production of Atari's first CD, the Softsource Collection, should begin in late October and sell for about $30. The CDAR505 CD ROM player may be in dealers at that same time, beginning the demand for third-party CD releases. One such company, Computer Rock of the San Francisco area, was responsible for the two existing domestic Atari ST CD disks and has several more planned for immediate release. The ST Software Library, released two years ago, contains the Public Domain library supplied by Current Notes magazine at that time. The First ST Clip Art Disk was released in late 1990, and has thousands of IMG and other format clip art files. To be released in November '91, the Z*NET CD will have over 7,000 fully categorized and indexed programs, plus years worth of ZMAGAZINE, ST-ZMAG, and Z*NET news releases and news photos. Coming soon afterwards will be another ST release with complete text and disk archives of a major print magazine. Planned for 1992 are another clip art/graphics collection, a Z*NET supplement disk, and at least one other Atari title, bringing the their catalog to a minimum of seven titles. Prices for the CD's from Computer Rock, which will each carry up to 500 Megabytes of read-only data (over 700 floppy disks worth), will range from $39.95 to $69.95. Details on availability will follow soon. To order existing Computer Rock CD titles, call 415-878-9609, and be certain to mention Z*NET. MORE ON SOFT-LOGIK'S USER GROUP GIVEAWAY Two weeks ago, Z*Net announced Soft-Logik's Pagestream giveaway. The response has been so high that the company has asked us to share more of the details of the offer to streamline their response time. Atari user groups can get two FREE copies of the desktop publisher PageStream 2.1, plus another demo copy for their library. A related program will offer discounts for user group members when they buy PageStream from dealers. The groups should send a previous and current newsletter, add Soft-Logik to the groups mailing list, full adress information, group membership and president name. Or, call Soft-Logik at (800) 829-8608 for specific instructions before mailing your group's request. Soft-Logik, 11131 S. Towne Square, St. Louis, MO 63123. ======================================================================= * SUMMERTIME READS - ATARILAND STYLE by Andy Eddy ======================================================================= The following article is reprinted in Z*Net by permission of AtariUser magazine and Quill Publishing. It MAY NOT be further reprinted without specific permission of Quill. AtariUser is a monthly Atari magazine, available by subscription for $18 a year. For more information on AtariUser, call 800-333-3567. [EDITOR'S NOTE: AtariUser originally planned to include a monthly guide to the contents of the major Atari support magazines. However, the only magazine that was willing to cooperate was STart, and of course, they are now history. So, we commissioned Andy Eddy, a magazine professional with Atari experience, to do an objective look at Atari publications. We promised a free hand, and he shared his opinions frankly. We didn't think it was quite right to include a review of AtariUser with these, so make up your own!] Atari Interface 3487 Braeburn Circle Ann Arbor, MI 48108 (313) 973-8825 Frequency: Monthly Issues Reviewed: February, March, April/May 1991 Editorial Slant: Overall yet lightweight coverage. 3.5 STARS ***1/2 Summary--Atari Interface Magazine (AIM) bills itself as "a monthly publication that also serves as an official newsletter of several independent Atari user groups." Several? It lists over 60 participating Atari user groups. Look and Feel--AIM is an attractive package, from its color cover to its basic layout design. (The great cover of the March issue, created on the TT, looks like a painting.) It gets its information across quite well, without many hitches along the way. The production of the magazine is good, too. It's printed on good paper, and the typography is clean--showing that the ability of the ST in DTP is adequate. Writing and Editing--The articles in AIM are friendly, for the most part informative (more on this in a second) and easy reading. And, similarly, the editing doesn't impose on the writers' musings. One other thing that jumped out at me was an article called "Public Domain, It Doesn't Have to be Sold to be Good!" While the article starts off describing the benefits of PD software, it turns into an AIM Monthly Disk pitch. Editorial should be clear of advertising, and a magazine must be careful with that regard. Utility--While issues of AIM I looked at are over 50 pages of editorial material and advertising, I came away feeling like I was missing something--there didn't seem to be enough "information" in there. For example, the February issue had about 20 pages of ads out of the 55 pages, a sizable chunk. Add to that about a dozen pages of club news (mainly listings of when the clubs meet and where, which would be best run on an occasional basis, as opposed to every month). And the table of contents spans two pages, including the 60-plus clubs that contribute. This really doesn't leave much for the reader to sink their teeth into. Also, some of the editorial material seemed to be, as described in the Atari Explorer review, somewhat limited in its focus. For instance, the February issue included a 1-1/2-page "review" of Vampire Empire, an aged ST game, which doesn't so much review the game as describe it. In that same issue, there is also a long article comparing two MIDI keyboards. Given the limited editorial space in AIM, I think it could have offered a better mix of material to suit the reader. In all fairness, the March issue seems to be a little better balanced with articles on the STe, the issue of Byte magazine not covering Atari products in its DTP overview, a piracy test and an article on London's 16-bit Computer Faire, among others. It still seemed to be a tad "thin." Overall Rating--Though AIM is pleasing to read, I can't overlook the fact that there just doesn't seem to be enough to dig into. Perhaps this will change in future issues, and the foundation is there if it does. 3.5 STARS. Puget Sound Atari News P.O. Box 110576 Tacoma, WA 98411-0576 (206) 566-1703 (Jim Chapman, coordinator) Frequency: Monthly Issues Reviewed: February, March/April 1991 Editorial Slant: Potpourri 2.5 STARS. **1/2 Summary--Self-described, the Puget Sound Atari News is the newsletter of the "participating non-profit Atari computer users groups. The contents of PSAN are a compilation of club news, hobby and industry news and articles about Atari computers and supporting software and hardware." Look and Feel--Being a newsletter, PSAN is understandably rougher in its appearance, and more basic in its layout. This doesn't hinder its ability to pass on information, and the publication's staff does a good job of putting it together. Also, the magazine is created using Atari computers and related software. On the critical side, some of the articles were composed at an uncomfortably small point size. At the same time, there were some filler cartoons unrelated to computers that could have been lifted for a better, easier-to-read layout. The editor could also drop a story in favor of a cleaner magazine. But the bottom line is that the PSAN is a nice-looking package considering that it's not a professionally created magazine (like Atari Explorer), and is fairly comfortable and clean for a laser-printed publication. Writing and Editing--Much of the writing comes from other sources, such as GEnie and other club publications, so some leniency needs to be given for consistency of writing and editing. The expected quantity of typos and grammatical errors are found, however they don't diminish from the information that PSAN passes on. PSAN also builds itself up by adding some supplements, such as Z*Net ("The International Atari Newsletter") and a Club News section. Utility--Newsletters not only try to provide reviews and news within the world the club was formed to partake in, but also cover the club news itself. PSAN is no different, and does the job well. In the issues looked at, there were articles and reviews on such subjects as database programs, color printing, hardware projects and program reviews--there was even a review of the same game by two different people for better perspective. PSAN also includes the 8-bit user, devoting space to that often-neglected community. Overall Rating--Again, I don't want it to appear as a strong criticism, but the PSAN is a newsletter in magazine format, and it suffers from some minor attendant problems. However, its strength is that it offers something for everyone. 2.5 STARS. ST Informer 280 Peach Street Merlin, OR 97532 (503) 476-0071 Frequency: Monthly Issues Reviewed: March, April 1991 Editorial Slant: Wide and agressive. 4.5 STARS ****1/2 Summary--It's easy to spot ST Informer because it's the only newspaper- style ST publication that's out. And its cover page is newspaper-like also, featuring some newsier items like press releases and reports. Look and Feel--ST Informer is a really nice presentation of material, and jams a lot of information into its pages. Though it offers almost no color to speak of, its neat four-column layout is smooth to follow articles through. It appears that ST Informer keeps the same style from month to month, placing new-product announcements and a feature on the front page, columns near the front, etc. This makes the reader feel at home with each issue, much like you'd feel driving the roads of your home town. Writing and Editing--The content of ST Informer is all top drawer, and the editors make sure there is a good quantity of material for everyone, as well as the specialty stuff. For instance, the April 1991 issue contained articles on new Atari products in the works, the new NeoDesk 3.02, the second part of a RAM upgrade article, as well as a study of electrostatic discharge and its effect on computers, in addition to many reviews of ST products. It also appears that the editorial staff has a good idea of what they are doing. The material is showcased well and grammatically correct. Utility--Even though there is a fair amount of advertising in ST Informer, the staff still seems to put a load of stuff in there. Each issue is chock full of reviews, product announcements, tutorials and columns, among others. The columns in particular cover most of the regular needs of the reader: game reviews, new products of interest, a rumor column and a Q&A help section. The latter two are quite helpful-- the rumor column gives the readers a fill of hot tidbits (for instance, did you know that a STacy was used on-stage at a Sting concert), potential stories and insight, while "The Help Key" provides some basic ST-specific techniques and answers questions that most users don't have anyone handy to answer. It's apparent that ST Informer can fill one other gap that most other publications can't: timeliness. It would appear that ST Informer has almost no lead time (the time it takes for a magazine to get into readers' hands after it is completed) because the April '91 issue featured a reader letter commenting on a review in the March '91 issue. What this means is that ST Informer is more like a newspaper because the editors can place stories into it at the last minute. Overall Rating--ST Informer has something for everyone, and presents special-interest material in a way that can draw in those readers who may not normally raise their eyelids. This is a well-produced publication. 4.5 STARS. ST World 2463 Latona Court NE Salem, OR 97303 (503) 393-9688 Frequency: Monthly? Issue Reviewed: April 1991 Editorial Slant: Too early to tell. 2 STARS ** Summary--After a hiatus with a strange story behind it, ST World seems to be back with new management, though there is some doubt that it has returned to a regular monthly schedule. Look and Feel--ST World is mainly a black-and-white publication, printed on newsprint--some of the ink will end up on your hands after a good read-through. It also employs a fairly large point size, which not only makes it easy to read (like a kid's book), but also lets each article take up more space, thus filling the magazine quicker. Otherwise, the layout is very simple: three-column layout for most of the magazine, switching to two-column for a feature article. The magazine employs very few graphics, but offers an "identity" by showing pictures of its columnists next to their work. Writing and Editing--This is a problem area, one that the editors should address in future issues. For instance, ST World uses the straight quote marks that signal a less-than-professional look. Also quirky is the schizophrenic mix of punctuation inside quotes in some articles, while being placed outside quotes in others. This leads me to believe that the editors are leaving it up to the writers, again showing editing to be below standard. The writing could also use some tweaking, but a few of the articles show great promise. One thing that really bothered me was the Errata section. While error gremlins always manage to creep into even the best publications, ST World (with a long history of typos and layout errors) seems to dwell too much on the mistakes of the previous issue. Apparently, the titles on four articles were switched, which is bad enough on the surface, but becomes worse when too much attention is paid to it. As a reader, I'm not too concerned with the mechanics of why a mistake happened. But as an editor, on the other hand, I can't subscribe to the explanation that these were flukes--even the most difficult, four-color magazines have room to check proof pages for mistakes, particularly those in headlines. 'Nuff said. Utility--Unfortunately, this department didn't help my view of ST World. While there are some attractive articles in the issue I reviewed, there are also some pieces that are well-written but hit a very small audience. How many of you are interested in a super-techie article called "V.32, the CCITT and the Tale of the 9600 Baud Modem"? How about an article on "Clients and Servers"? I'm not saying that technical articles don't have their place in general-interest magazines, but this stuff belongs in Byte or InfoWorld more than an Atari magazine, in my view. A magazine that wants to gain subscribers can't overestimate its market. This is not to say that ST World is empty of helpful or well-directed writings. It features a good mix of game reviews (both for Lynx and ST), a smattering of press releases and a preview section, among the previously mentioned articles. A better mix of game coverage, "serious" hardware/software reviews and other articles of interest is needed. Overall Rating--Suffice it to say that I wasn't that pleased with the "new" ST World. It would be good to see more issues; I only had one to work with, and couldn't prove the rumors of it being monthly. 2 STARS. Hey, what about the "online" magazines? These are "free," electronically transferred, available on CompuServe, GEnie, Delphi, F-Net, UseNet, and countless private bulletin boards. ST Report Post Office Box 6672 Jacksonville, Florida 32205-6672 (904) 783-3319 Frequency: Weekly Issue Reviewed--May 24, May 31, June 7, 1991 Editorial Slant--"A Current Affair" Meets the ST. 3 STARS *** Summary--One "publication" takes the prize as the National Enquirer of the ST world, and that's the electronic ST Report. Though over time it has been proven to be a rumor monger, it has also been counted on by many each week for insight and no-holds-barred reporting. What the heck is ten minutes of downloading worth to you? Look and Feel--Well, the look is what you make it. After all, ST Report is a text file, so looks aren't really under consideration. But its "flow," how the magazines moves from article to article and the choice of articles in each issue is smooth enough. ST Report also features its share of regular columns that cover all subjects. Writing and Editing--Room has to be given to a weekly publication for some sloppiness. ST Report does a good enough job of making the articles readable, though there are some of the traditional mistakes in punctuation, grammar and spelling. Another benefit about ST Report is the fact that there isn't much advertising in it, though there are ads just the same. However, advertisements for CompuServe, Delphi and GEnie help more people get into a position of downloading ST Report--and getting involved with online activities--so it's easy to overlook. Besides, the best thing about an electronic publication is the reader's ability to skip ahead if an article or advertisement annoys. Utility--Wait a minute. Isn't the name of this publication ST Report? Why, then, are there extensive articles on other PCs ("CPU Report") and the Macintosh ("Mac Report")? It's certainly a change from when I used to read ST Report regularly, and I'm not sure it's appropriate. However, when I used to read it regularly, it was ST specific--and about 50K in size. Now the ST Report files fill about 120K each, so I guess the readers can handle the extraneous non-ST filler. It's up to them to determine whether other industry news is required reading--even though I find it to be inappropriate for a magazine named ST Report. Yet, the articles are in-depth, particularly the "CPU Report", which is packed with technical insights and views on the industry. On the ST side, there are some helpful sections, such as the "A Little of This, A Little of That" column, which singles out some of the more important threads on the online services. This not only gives readers who aren't online cruisers a view of what type of action takes place there, but also answers some of the questions of the day, like what the status of GCR and System 7-compatibility is and aging troubles with particular hard drives. If only the rest of the "magazine" was more beneficial. Finally , the editor, Ralph Mariano, is one of Atari's biggest fans--and detractors. He is brutally honest about when Atari messes up, perhaps to a fault, which is something of a wake-up call for the company at times. Though the readers get a benefit out of his rantings, they often go overboard, and have at times made him look like he is trying to create headlines. Again, the National Enquirer provides an apt comparison. Overall Rating--If you can get by the snooty, smarmy rumor-slinging theatrics, the "I know something you don't know" reporting (which attempts to bring people back week after week like a soap opera) and the non-ST text, ST Report isn't really that bad for what it tries to accomplish. And it's pretty painless to download or have copied from another ST user. 3 STARS. Z*Net P.O. Box 59 Middlesex, NJ 08846 (908) 968-2024 Frequency: Weekly Issue Reviewed--May 17, May 24, 1991 Editorial Slant--All the News That Fits. 4 STARS **** Summary--Ron Kovacs started ST Report as an offshoot of his ZMAGAZINE, and then...well, it's not important. After too much bad blood, Ron abandoned ST Report to Ralph Mariano, and now does Z*Net. It does its best to stick to reporting, both the visible on the behind the scenes stuff. Look and Feel--Again, as with ST Report, Z*Net's layout is nothing more than what you get when you load the file in your text editor of choice. Hey, you can make it two or three columns if you want, but its the content that matters. The "Feel" of Z*Net is comfortable, the kind of vision you get by peering in on the evening news on TV. Z*Net tries to keep the reader informed of what the happenings are in the Atari community, without too much fluff or non-specific reportage. In comparison to ST Report, Z*Net also has its share of columns, though much better focused to the Atari world. And no advertising at all. Writing and Editing--The columns we just spoke of are nicely written and, again, well focused. For example, the "Z*Net Software Shelf" by Ron Berinstein is a regular porthole to the new software appearing for the ST owner. Not only does this column offer a listing of new products and what they can be expected to do, but it also leads in the body of the article with some humorous and friendly--okay, sometimes eccentric-- chatter. As mentioned before, this adds personality and freshness to a publication. Z*Net also has a nice mix of technical and non-technical coverage. The editing is subject to the usual breaks in consistency, but Z*Net also features a good amount of reprinting--the issues I looked at included transcripts of online conferences and reprints of features from AtariUser--so it is pretty clean grammatically. Utility--The fact that material is reprinted from other sources makes Z*Net's utility rating suffer somewhat, although most conference transcripts are mercifully condensed by the Z*Net editors. An important issue, though, is that Z*Net features almost entirely Atari-related news, with the exception of the "Z*Net Newswire," which is industry-wide coverage, though a lot less intense or technically oriented than ST Report. (It, however, turned my head to see news stories in the May 17, 1991, issue on the death of John Maher, publisher of Down Beat magazine, the retirement of Harry Reasoner from the 60 Minutes TV show and the recent changes in Zenith computer prices. Hmmm, must've been a slow Atari-news week.) A major benefit is that 95% of Z*Net is solid Atari coverage, and the issues generally were less than 50% the size of the similar ST Report, clicking in at about 55K in size. Overall Rating--Most of Z*Net is meaty Atari reporting, something that makes it a big draw for Atari-computer owners. It doesn't take much time out of your week to download and scan through it, and you'll probably walk away with a few tidbits of knowledge that will help you be a more-informed user. 4 STARS. That about covers the regular periodicals, both print and electronic. Certainly the cost wouldn't preclude you from getting a hold of a few to receive the varied benefit that some of these publications offer. And, needless to say, one man's ceiling may be another man's floor. For that reason, you should look into the content of the magazines I covered here to see if you get something out of them that I didn't--or even simply disagree with me. Finally, there are many European Atari coverage magazines being imported with varied regularity. When reading foreign mags, understand that the ST is treated differently in other parts of the world, and may feature products not available or usable in North America. Also keep in mind that the cover prices only indicate the price in their respective countries; import costs may not enter into the equation. Check with your local Atari store or contact the publishers directly for more information on how you can get a copy. A pair of British magazines and one German magazine were in my grab-bag: ST Format, The Old Barn Somerset, Somerset, England TA11 7PY0458 74011. Monthly, in English. Atari ST User, Europa House, Adlington Park, Macclesfield, England SK10 4NP0625 878888. Monthly, in English. Atari PD Journal, HolbeinstraBe 606000, Frankfurt am Main 70, Germany 06151 56057-8. Monthly, all in German. Happy reading! BIO: Andy Eddy, a long-time Atari journalist, is currently Executive Editor for VideoGames & Computer Entertainment and TurboPlay magazines. He can be reached on Delphi as VIDGAMES (where he is sysop for the World of Video Games SIG), CompuServe at 70007,3554 or GEnie at VIDGAME. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- GENIE To sign up for GEnie service, call (with modem) 800-638-8369. Upon connection type HHH (RETURN after that). Wait for the U#= prompt. Type XJM11877,GEnie and hit RETURN. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- COMPUSERVE To sign up for CompuServe service, call 800-848-8199. Ask for operator 198. You will be sent a $15.00 free membership kit. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Z*MAGAZINE Atari 8-Bit Online Magazine is a bi-weekly magazine covering the Atari and related computer community. Material contained in this edition may be reprinted without permission, except where otherwise noted, unedited, with the issue number, name and author included at the top of each reprinted article. Commentary and opinions presented are those of the individual author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Z*MAGAZINE or the staff. Z*Magazine Atari 8-Bit Online Magazine, Z*Net Atari Online Magazine, Z*Net are copyright (c)1991 by Rovac Industries Inc, a registered corporation. Post Office Box 59, Middlesex, New Jersey 08846. (908) 968-2024. Z*Net Online BBS 24 Hours, 1200/2400 Baud, (908) 968-8148. We can be reached on CompuServe at 75300,1642 and on GEnie at Z-NET. ======================================================================= Z*Magazine Atari 8-Bit Online Magazine Copyright (c)1991, Rovac Industries, Inc.. =======================================================================
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