Z*Magazine: 15-Aug-87 #66From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 07/17/93-08:28:18 AM Z
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From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG) Subject: Z*Magazine: 15-Aug-87 #66 Date: Sat Jul 17 08:28:18 1993 ////////////////////////////////////// ZMAGAZINE 66////////////////////////// ////////////////////////////////////// August 15, 1987 (c)1987 Syndicate ______________________________________ Publisher/Editor in Chief-Ron Kovacs Assistant Publishers-Ken Kirchner Susan Perry, Rich Decowski ZMAGAZINE INFORMATION NETWORK 201-968-8148 300/1200 BAUD ______________________________________ Xx ZMAG INDEX 66 ______________________________________ <*> FCC DEADLINE ...By:Ron Kovacs... <*> THE WIZARD ...By:Leo Newman... <*> ZMAG INTERVIEW--[HDUG's MR.Z] ...By:Ron Kovacs... <*> MAKE A FORTUNE OFF YOUR BBS ...By:Brian Bowman... <*> ZMAG SOFTWARE REVIEW--New Express ...By:Keith Ledbetter... <*> CONTEST INFORMATION <*> MACHINE LANGUAGE PROGRAMMING #1 ______________________________________ Xx FCC DEADLINE ______________________________________ According to published reports I have received, the deadline for responding to the proposed FCC decision is August 24, 1987. I have created a file that will help you grasp exactly what is going on. On CompuServe, There are a few files available to just this. FCCLTR and FCCPROP. Also, there is ZMAGFCC which goes into some more details. We need your help!!! Please write your Congressman, Senator, and or the FCC Commissioners, explaining why you dont want the extra access charges imposed! Dont sit back and wait for your friends to do it!! If you dont want to pay more for the use of PCP, CompuServe, GEnie, Telenet, Tymnet, and other information services!! Act today and get your letter in the mail. CompuServe is now offering Congressgrams to it's users. For $.50, you can send a letter to your local government representative. August 24, 1987 is just around the corner, time is running out. ______________________________________ Xx THE WIZARD ______________________________________ This week has been kind of slow in the question department so I will explain one featue of the Oasis BBS message base editor. One thing I have never liked to do is edit a message after entry to correct a misspelled word. It usually envolves listing the message out or using a /G command to goto a particular line to edit. When this type editing is used you must retype the entire line to edit one single word. Oasis has a search and replace function which makes this type editing relatively fast and simple. There is no need to list he message or to retype an entire line. An example follows: This wold be an example of text entry and search and replace function. /c/wold/would/ The /c/wold/would/ entry would search for the "wold" and replace it with "would". In a short message such as this it would not have been hard to edit in either method but in a long message of 1 or 2K of text the search and replace would be very fast and simple. On another note as you can imagine I get a lot of questions directed at me as to why would Oasis be better than brand X. Well I have to be honest regardless of the fact that I am part of Oasis BBS systems, ALL BBS programs that are being sold right now are of outstanding quality. As to which is the best BBS program, that would be a tough question to answer. Todamis, Amis, FoReM, Express!, Carina, Nitelite and Oasis are all good programs. Each one of this list has it's strong points and it's weak points. I have to say that I have never seen the perfect BBS program. None are perfect, and as such you as a SysOp must make a decision as to which has the particular features you want. If I were a SysOp looking for a new program to run, I would be no different than the rest of you. I would hate to have to make a choice, I like some of this one and some of that one etc.. Tough! But I am going to be brave and tell you which is the BEST BBS program. "All of them!" That is it for this week, and if you have any questions about the Oasis BBS you can call (316)-683-7514, 3/12/2400 baud and leave a message to SysOp or write to: Leo Newman 3900 N Woodlawn #17 Chisholm Wichita, KS 67220 Until next week, happy BBSing... ______________________________________ Xx ZMAG INTERVIEW ______________________________________ This is an interview with Chuck Leazott of the Hard Disk Users Group and the NETWORK: Atari BBS in San Antonio Texas. The interview was conducted on August 13, 1987. RON: Good day Sir, Please tell our readers about the HDUG, and why you started this User Group? MRZ: OK, (DEEP BREATH). HDUG (HARD DISK USER GROUP) IS DESIGNED AROUND SYSOPS THAT HAVE THE YEARNING TO OPERATE A HARD DRIVE WITH THE ATARI COMPUTERS. IT'S REALLY FOR EVERYONE WISHING TO RUN A HD, BUT ARE AFRAID TO START DUE TO A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE. WE STARTED THE GROUP AS A RESULT OF A CONVERSATION WITH TOM HARKER AT ICD. SINCE THEY ARE NOW SUPPORTING HD'S, WE NEEDED A PLACE TO COORDINATE ALL THE HD ACTIVITY. THUS, HDUG WAS BORN. I HAVE TO GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE, AND IT WAS REALLY TOM'S IDEA. SINCE HE DIDN'T REALLY HAVE THE TIME, I TOOK IT UPON MYSELF TO GOPHER IT. RON: Were you running a BBS system before HDUG existed? MRZ: YES, I HAD A SIMPLE SYSTEM (STARTED WITH AMIS, OF ALL THINGS). AFTER TALKING TO TOM, I BOUGHT A HD. I'VE BEEN INTO BBS'N SINCE 1982, AND STARTED WITH A SINGLE 1050 (AND "NO" RAMDISK). USING ATARI DOS 3.0 DIDN'T REALLY TICKLE ME. RON: I know what you mean!!! What would a perspective HD user get out of joining this user group? MRZ: WELL, IT DEPENDS ON A LOT OF THINGS. THE NEWSLETTER IDEA IS A DEVICE SETUP TO SPREAD NEWS ON HD SYSTEMS, AND THE HOW'S, WHERE'S, AND EVEN WHY'S OF USING A HARD DRIVE RATHER THAN A FLOPPY/RAMDISK COMBINATION. YOU HAVE TO REALIZE THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE, YOU HAVE TO HAVE $$$ TO GET THE HD, BUT IT DOESN'T HURT FOR TOO LONG. RON: Sounds interesting, How about some membership instructions. MRZ: SURE... WE CHOSE A VERY LOW COST FOR MEMBERSHIP. IT TAKES QUITE A BIT OF TIME TO GET THE DATA TOGETHER FOR THE NEWSLETTER (YOU KNOW ALL ABOUT THAT PART), AND PRINTING COSTS ARE NO PICNIC. SO, $18 FOR A 1 YEAR SUBSCRIPTION TO THE NL SOUNDED REASONABLE. THE NL IS CURRENTLY A QUARTERLY, AND SEEMS TO BE GETTING OFF ON THE RIGHT TRACK. FOLKS CAN JOIN HDUG BY WRITING TO: NETWORK: HDUG 5831 SUN BAY SAN ANTONIO, TX 78244 WE ASK THAT YOU PLEASE INCLUDE ANY DATA THAT YOU WISH TO HAVE INSERTED IN THE NL. THINGS LIKE LOCAL BBS'S AND USER GROUPS. ALSO, IF YOU HAVE A HARD DRIVE SETUP, WE WOULD REALLY LIKE TO KNOW WHAT COMPONENTS IT CONSISTS OF. RON: Talking about componets, Do you include both 8 and 16-bit in your group? MRZ: YES. IF YOU SUPPORT ATARI, WE SUPPORT YOU. ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING THAT ATARI EQUIPMENT CAN HANDLE IN THE HARD DISK INDUSTRY WE WANT TO KNOW ABOUT. ALL INPUTS COME FROM THE MEMBERS OF THE GROUP. IF YOU DON'T TELL US, WE DON'T KNOW.....YET. RON: What other offers are available to members? MRZ: OH, THERE ARE MANY DISCOUNTS ON PRODUCTS FROM LOTS OF FOLKS. ONCE WE ESTABLISH "RELATIONSHIPS" WITH COMPANIES, WE USUALLY CAN GET SOME FORM OF DISCOUNT ON HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE FOR THE HD SYSTEMS. FOR EXAMPLE, THERE ARE 2 NEW "BACKUP" UTILITIES DESIGNED TO HELP THE HARD CORE USERS BACKUP THEIR SYSTEMS TO FLOPPY AND HD. FLASHBACK! AND HARDBACK (FROM ICD AND ORION MICRO SYSTEMS, RESPECTIVELY) ARE OFFERED TO MEMBERS WITH AT A SUBSTANTIAL DISCOUNT. ALSO, HARWARE IS OFFERD AT A DISCOUNT. RON: I have read a few messages on the Zmag BBS about users looking for hard disk information and repair. Does your group assist with helping members or offering members repair information or a service? MRZ: WELL, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE HARD DISK USER GROUP IS UNIQUE IN THE RESPECT THAT IT'S TOTALLY A "MAIL-ORDER" USER GROUP. ANY CORRESPONDENCE IS ON MODEMS AND BBS'S THAT HELP SUPPORT US...LIKE YOUR SYSTEM. SO, WHEN A MEMBER HAS PROBLEMS OR QUESTIONS, WE CAN LEAD THEM TO THE RIGHT PLACE (AND CHEAPEST) TO GET THE PROBLEM SOLVED. SOME THINGS WE CAN HANDLE IN THE MESSAGE BASES BUT OTHERS, OF COURSE, HAVE TO BE REFERED. RON: What would you suggest (Hard Disks) for new hard disk buyers? MRZ: HMMM...THAT'S TOUCHY, SINCE I DEAL WITH A LOT OF DIFFERENT PLACES AND DON'T LIKE PLAYING FAVORITES (EVEN THOUGH I HAVE SOME). BUT, LET'S SEE...ICD IS ONE COMPANY THAT WILL RESEARCH PROBLEMS WITH SYSTEMS THEY SELL, AND OTHER SYSTEMS THAT YOU HAVE. LURIE AND ASSOCIATES HANDLE THEIR NEW "BTL" HD SYSTEMS, AND OF COURSE THERE'S ALWAYS SEAGATE, INC., WHICH REALLY KNOWS THE IN'S AND OUT'S OF THE "THEORY" BEHIND HD SYSTEMS. RON: Sounds like a lot of work for a new hard disk buyer. I suppose you would suggest an MIO to your future HD buyers, are there any other interfaces available to Atari users? MRZ: WELL, AGAIN...I HAVE MY FAVORITES, BUT THERE ARE NUMEROUS SYSTEMS TO USE. SUPRA HAS AN INTERFACE DESIGNED FOR BOTH ATARI 8/16 BIT SYSTEMS. THE BTL IS USEFUL, AND IS QUITE SIMILAR TO ICD'S MIO INTERFACE. SINCE I HAVE AN MIO, I HAVE TO SAY THAT IT'S PERFECT FOR MY NEEDS. I'M NOT SURE WHAT THE DRIVE SPEC CAPACITY IS ON THE OTHER COMPANIES' INTERFACES, BUT USING SPARTADOS AND THE MIO WILL ALLOW A PERSON TO RUN A WHOPPING 128 MEGABYTES ON A $59.95 8-BIT ATARI COMPUTER WITHOUT A BIT OF TROUBLE. I RUN 120 MEGS. RON: Before we terminate this interview, what features are available on the Network Atari BBS and what are the future plans for HDUG? MRZ: WELL, WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CONFLICT HERE AT NETWORK... WE HAVE TO MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY, WHICH IS OUR BUSINESS, BUT TRYING TO FIND THE BEST BBS PROGRAM TO LET US USE ALL 120 MEGS ON-LINE IS A CHORE. CURRENTLY, LIKE YOURSELF, WE RUN THE OASIS BBS (SORRY KEITH AND EVERYONE ELSE). THIS ALLOWS US TO HAVE ALL OUR D/L'S ON-LINE AT ONCE. KEITH LEDBETTER WILL SOON BE RELEASING A NEW VERSION OF THE 850 EXPRESS! BBS, AND WE ARE SLATED TO DO THE BETA TESTING SHORTLY. AS A MATTER OF FACT, I'LL BE DOING AN INDEPTH INTERVIEW WITH KEITH THIS COMING SATURDAY ABOUT THIS NEW SYSTEM. WE'LL KNOW MORE AT THAT TIME. NOT TO DRAG ON, BUT I LIKE TO BE SURE THAT EVERYONE KNOWS THAT I SUPPORT "ANY" BBS THAT SUPPORTS ATARI. IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE HDUG NEWSLETTER WE'LL HAVE A COMPLETE REVIEW OF MOST OF THE POPULAR BBS'S, AND PIT THEM TOGETHER. YOU DECIDE WHICH SYSTEM SUITS YOU BEST. RON: (Last question) Do you have information about ICD news for the months ahead, and expectations on the user group? MRZ: WELL, I CAN SAY THAT AFTER SPEAKING WITH THE CREW AT ICD, THEY EXPECT TO RELEASE ALL THE NEW PRODUCTS IN A MAD RUSH. I'VE BEEN TOLD THAT IT WILL BE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, BUT DON'T TAKE THAT WRONG. I ASKED TOM IF THEY WERE WAITING FOR THE XMAS RUSH, AND HE SORTA CHUCKLED AND SAID ABSOLUTELY NOT. ONE OF THE SLATED PRODUCTS, SPARTADOS 4 ELITE, HAS BEEN CANCELLED, BUT THEY WILL TAKE ALL THOSE FILES AND PROBABLY INCLUDE THEM INTO THE "TOOLS" DISK. THIS SOUNDS TERRIFIC, AND I'VE SEEN SOME OF THOSE TOOLS IN ACTION AT THE ICD OFFICE. WE CAN EXPECT TO BE TREATED WITH AN ARMLOAD OF THINGS THAT WE'VE ALL BEEN PATIENTLY WAITING FOR. AS FOR THE HARD DISK USER GROUP, I'M WORKING ON SOME "TOOLS" MYSELF, AND HAVE ENLISTED THE PROGRAMMING EFFORTS OF ONE OF THE "SLEEPER" PROGRAMMERS IN THE 8-BIT COMMUNITY. DON PEASLEY IS HIS NAME, AND YOU CAN ALL REST ASSURED THAT YOU'LL BE HEARING MANY EXCITING THINGS FROM HIM. RON: Ok... Please give us your Network: Atari BBS Number and address again for those who probably read on past it. MRZ: SURE.. NETWORK: ATARI 5831 SUN BAY SAN ANTONIO, TX. 78244 VOICE: 512-662-9764 MODEM: 512-662-9765 (ANY TIME/BAUD) NOTE: TO ALL YOUR READERS... PLEASE DON'T CALL MY VOICE NUMBER AT 3AM THINKING IT'S THE BBS. HEH. RON: Ok Chuck, I want to thank you for this interview. I hope we have covered a few of the important aspects and will be calling on you after the release of your next newsletter. MRZ: WELL THANX A MEG, AND I'D LIKE TO RAMBLE TO YER READERS FOR JUST A SEC. DO YOU MIND? RON: Not at all!!!! MRZ: OK, LET'S ME SAY THAT STARTING A HARD DISK SYSTEM FOR THE ATARI SYSTEMS, OR ANY SYSTEMS, CAN BE A TRYING THING. IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT IS DONE EASILY, BUT ONCE YOU GET INTO IT IT'S REALLY PHUN! DON'T BE INFLUENCED BY OTHERS THAT HAVE HAD "TROUBLE" WITH THEIR SYSTEMS. GET THE FACTS. DO IT SMART. GET ALL THE DETAILS "BEFORE" YOU BUY YOUR PRODUCTS. BECAUSE, ONCE YOU'VE INVESTED "MEGGA" BUCKS IN YOUR SYSTEM, YOU ARE STUCK WITH IT. LOOK AROUND. SHOP. SEE WHAT ALL THE RUCKUS IS ABOUT. DON'T BE HASTY IN THE PRODUCTS YOU PURCHASE. FIND A DEPENDABLE COMPANY THAT WILL REALLY "SUPPORT" YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY. LASTLY, CALL ME... I'LL FIX YOU UP WITH ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO HAVE. THANKS FOR THE TIME, AND A TIP OF THE HAT TO ANYONE THE BUYS ATARI!! RON: Chuck, Thanks again. Good luck with the group. MRZ: THANK YOU RON, HOPE ALL THE HDUG EFFORTS DON'T CRASH!! CHOW. ______________________________________ Xx MAKE A FORTUNE OFF YOUR BBS ....By Brian Bowman.... ______________________________________ Please feel free to reprint/copy as long as no changes are made and this header is left attached. AXE*** BBS at 314-696-3506 AXE*** Small Fortune Tutorial ------------------------------------- Following is a short tutorial on the different ways to make a small fortune running your very own BBS. First, start with a Public Domain BBS program. These are available for about $10 and are easy to set up and manage. Of course, you'll only need one floppy drive...... no, make that two. Now that 300 baud modem your using is a little archaic, better spend some bucks ($$$.cc) and get a 1200 baud modem. Of course you might as well spend a little bit more and make it Haye's compatible. You never know when some big football player by the name of Hayes is going to visit, and you don't want him mad!!! Well, with two drives you have just enough room for your message bases and some interesting tutorials (like this one) but darn it, there just isn't enough space for uploads and downloads. So you purchase another floppy drive. After about a month you begin to hear rumors. You know, people making fun of how your message editor works or belittling the slow response of the board. Nothing is ever said directly, friends smile weakly and profess confidence that your BBS will be a success. But you know (deep down inside) that everyones making fun of you for running a BBS based on a Public Domain program. Yech!! Icky!! GROW UP! Better get a "real" BBS set up soon or the computer police will raid the joint and confiscate and burn your antique 8-bit and assorted "games". (Computers are for work, remember? Never admit that your computer has great graphics and sound. It will be called a "game" computer and you will never be allowed to use your word processor again). Sorry I got sidetracked, anyway, you plunk down $50-$80 and get a "manly" BBS program and occupy the better part of a month with much cursing and swearing and get the new beast to work. AHHHH!!! You can relax!!! Nirvana!!! Ok..don't fall asleep yet!!! We're almost to the end, so pay ATTENTION. Dagnabit all to heck!! Your still using wimpy floppy drives. People with big blue computers are starting to think....nay, believe that their fuddy duddy 2000 dollar computer is better than you eight bit system. Why?????? Why?????? Why????? Why of course, because they have a hard drive. Eveyone must have a hard drive if they expect to do any "real" work. (remember, computers are for work!!!). A spread sheet just isn't a spread sheet unless it takes up 400k of space! So send $500 off to a P.O. Box in New Jersey and equip the board with a hard drive. Might as well get another 1200 baud modem so you can copy interesting software off of other boards (while running up your phone bill). What good is a hard drive if you dont fill it up immediately??? There!!!! You've done it!!!! You made a small fortune with your BBS!! You started with a large fortune and made a small one!!! Written by Brian Bowman Sysop of the AXE*** Board at 314-696-3506 Please feel free to reprint, but dont alter!!! ______________________________________ Xx ZMAG SOFTWARE REVIEW ..The NEW Express BBS.. ______________________________________ By: Keith Ledbetter -< BBS Express! Professional >- Since everyone seems to be asking me all the time what the new version of BBS Express! is going to be like, I thought I'd throw together a little overview of the new system. First, let's talk about the upgrade. This upgrade is for the *850 VERSION* of the BBS first, and is being called 'BBS Express! Professional'. This version is targeted at the serious, big-system SysOp. Also, this upgrade will ONLY run on SpartaDOS 3.2x or greater. TDLINE and ZHAND must be installed. This means that the RTime 8 is fully supported (along with SpartaDOS's 'internal' software clock if you don't have an RTime 8 cartridge). What do I mean by 'big-system'? Well, the MOST important thing with BBS Express! professional is that you have a RAMDISK, since every command (and I mean *EVERY* command -- even ASCII/ ATASCII toggle!) is an 'external command', and must be loaded from a disk. Without a RAMdisk or a Hard Disk to load these commands from, the BBS is going to be painfully slow (you might be able to survive with a US Doubler'ed 1050 in high speed). With a ramdisk or Hard Disk, all commands load almost instantaneously. Now, don't get me wrong -- you don't HAVE to have a large ramdisk or a Hard Disk to run BBS Express! Pro, but it is highly recommended because of slow floppy disk access times. BBS Express! Pro is written in 100% machine language. The main 'shell' of the BBS sits in memory from $3000 - $6000. This shell contains common routines that are accessed a lot by the external, chained programs (such as the routines to display strings to the modem, get input from the modem, view text files, etc). Also, there are system vectors that you machine- language-programming sysops can use to access these shell commands to easily and quickly write your own commands! All of the 'external commands' (such as the message base processor, the call-for-sysop command, the browse downloads command, etc) are loaded into memory at $6000 when they are needed. The beauty in this type of a system is that we are now no longer limited by the machine's memory space. Each external command can be up to 16K in length (larger than just about any DOS you'll ever run!). The BBS is currently about 1 month (maybe) away from going into full BETA test, (the primary Beta Test site will be MOUSE BBS 219-674-9288) and hopefully a long BETA-test period will not be needed... (you haven't really lived until you write a fully threaded message base processor in machine language! yuk!). Another nice feature of the 'modularized layout' is that if there happens to be a bug in one of the external commands, only THAT command has to be changed. This sure makes it convenient for putting updated or modified commands in the download section of the support BBS. OK, enough of this garbage, you say? You want to know what it CAN DO!?!? Well, here's a list of the currently in and proposed functions. Don't hold me to all of these; like I said, some are currently in, and others in this list are pure blue-sky and may not be out in the INITIAL release. But, then again, they can easily be written later as modules, put on the support BBS, and be downloaded by you. You would then just add the letter of the command to invoke the new module to your 'command table definition', and you now have a new command! The ones marked below with an '*' will DEFINITELY be in the initial release. Those marked with an '-' are planned to be initially released or be available for download sometime after the initial release. * 40 and 80 column support, along with seperate ATASCII/ASCII menu file areas. * 300/1200/2400/9600 baud support. The 9600 is really sort of a fluke, but it's there anyway. If ANYONE ever tells you that their 8-bit Atari program can support full 9600 baud, you tell them that I said they are full of....well, never mind. * Fully threaded message bases (see replies, reply, follow thread,etc). * You can edit messages you previously posted. - Certain messages can be 'locked' by the SysOp so that they will not be deleted by the 'automatic deletion' portion of the message base processor. * Up to 32 different message bases, each one having up to 250 4000-byte messages. * File browsing by the mask you enter (such as '*.*' or '*.COM', etc). Identical to the ST version of the BBS. * More download files??? How about 516,128 possible download files? That should make even Mr. Z happy! The BBS has 32 possible 'file SIG areas', each one allowing up to 16,129 files!! * Download files now use the entire 8 character name and 3 char extender. * Full file descriptions on each download file. Each file can have a description of up to 240 characters. * Standard XModem, CRC XModem, and YModem support. * FULL on-line user editor that can be accessed either from on-line or from the 'waiting for call' screen. * Each user has 320 'security flags' that you can turn on or off to control virtually every action they can take. These flags control such things as: 'Which message bases can this user READ' 'Which message bases can this user POST on' 'Which file areas can this user access' Incredibly easy to set up a user to have full sysop levels on one message base, but absolutely NO power on any other. Great for assigning co-sysops to different areas of your BBS. - Up to 32 trackable surveys, each one having an unlimited (only by disk space) number of questions. * Fully functional 'DOS Command' area that allows the following commands (available from on-line or waiting- for-call screen): DIR - disk directory ERASE - erase file(s) CHAT - turn chat mode on/off CREDIR - create a subdirectory DELDIR - delete a subdirectory CWD - change working directory LOCK - lock a diskette UNLOCK - unlock a diskette PROTECT - protect a file UNPROTECT - unprotect a file AINIT - initialize a diskette CHKDSK - display disk statistics (free space, etc) TYPE - view a text file ?DIR - display current default subdirectory UPLOADS - browse/validate new upload files COPY - copy file(s) RENAME - rename file(s) TIME - set time DATE - set date - The following available from the 'Waiting for Call' screen: * Full user editor * Enter DOS commands * Browse / Validate new Upload Files * Toggle chat mode on/off * 5 different 'logon' modes * Exit to DOS - Display today's call log - Print / Delete today's call log - Terminal program - Change SYSDATA file definitions There are probably tons more things that I can't remember right now. I'm really excited about this version of the BBS because it is EXPANDABLE. Probably the best comparison I can think of is SpartaDOS; almost every command there is external. If you want a new command, you just put a new .COM file on your disk, right? Well, that's basically it with BBS Express! Pro, too. You put the new .CMD file on the drive, change your Command Table Definition to say something like 'key 'Z' will invoke the command file ADVENTUR.CMD', and that's all there is to it (there can be up to 35 different commands invoked from the main Command: prompt). Also, since there is no PROMPT.OBJ file in BBS Express! Pro, most of the source code for the external BBS commands will provided on the disk (in MAC/65 format). Should be no problem for you (or someone you know) to customize prompts to your liking. Have you got some other ideas you'd like to see included? Well, logon to Midnight Express! and leave a message in the 'registered owners' section and I'll be sure to put them on the 'wish-list'. Now, about the time-tables...when?? Well, that's really hard to say. This BBS version is a MAJOR undertaking, and you all know how I feel about letting products out the door too soon (not to mention that it's being written only in my 'spare' time, whatever that is). There's nothing I hate more than a program being released with bugs in it. I think a reasonable date to shoot for would be around the first of next year. So, those of you who are getting a little upset with some of the limits of the current version (especially the limited number of download files) -- stay with us just a little bit longer. On a closing note I'd like to say 'thanks' to all of you who have supported both myself and Orion Micro Systems in the past by purchasing our BBS program. You have helped us prove that there is STILL some money to be made on the 8 bit Atari if you put out good products at fair prices. Take care, Keith Ledbetter Stay tuned on MOUSE BBS (219-674-9288) for full Beta Testing of this great program. This is where you will see it all take place and we will keep you updated on the progress and future release dates. Jerry Burke - SysOp ______________________________________ Xx CONTEST INFORMATION ______________________________________ On Saturday, August 22, HYBRID ARTS, LOGICAL CHOICE, and H.A.C.K.S. will be sponsoring the first MIDIMAZE tournament, in conjunction with the release of MIDIMAZE. There will be two rounds. The first will be for any and all players. The second round will be for REGISTERED OWNERS OF MIDIMAZE ONLY. The top prize will be a Casio keyboard. Many other prizes will be awarded also. MIDIMAZE will be on sale at Logical Choice For Computers the day before the tournament, and on the day of the tournament. For more details, contact the store at 6116 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA, or call them at (818) 760-0738 ______________________________________ Xx MACHINE LANGUAGE PROGRAMMING PART1 from Fuji Facts, newsetter of ACEC Atari Computer Enthusiasts of Columbus. (c)1987 Fuji Facts ______________________________________ Machine Language: Where Do I Begin? by Dr. Warren G. Lieuallen As many people already know, beginning to understand and program in machine or assembly language is not an easy task. The instruction set for the 6502 microprocessor is much more primitive (much more basic!) than BASIC; many tasks which were automatically performed for the user become responsibilities which must now be directly and properly controlled, such as: specific input/output control, allotting precise memory space for variables, counters and flags, and many more. But perhaps the most bothersome of these extra "housekeeping chores" is deciding just where to store the actual code which makes up the program. This must be done before the program itself can even be written. While using BASIC, program lines are simply typed in, one after the other. The use of line numbers instructs the computer in which order the commands are to be executed, and additional lines may be added into the program at any point be using an intervening line number (this explains the common practice of numbering lines with multiples of ten--plenty of space is left for any modifications.). Very rarely is any thought even given to where within the computer's memory the BASIC program will reside; the computer figures that much out for itself! The line numbers simply indicate the order of the program statements, not their location. However, with machine language, this luxury is not provided. Every "program statement" in a machine language program is simply a number from 0 to 255 (that's the maximum range of numbers which can be expressed in one byte in the hexadecimal system [00 to FF]). This number is then placed into a specific memory location, perhaps by means of the POKE command. After the appropriate numbers have been entered, the computer simply executes the commands represented by the numbers it finds in its memory, one right after the other. The order of execution is the order that the commands are encountered in sequential memory locations, one right after the other (there are exceptions, of course--as in the BASIC "GOTO" command, branches are allowed in assembly language via "JUMP" commands.). One consequence of this is that it is much more difficult to modify a machine language program, because there is no "line-skipping" as in BASIC. So, the first consideration in writing a machine language program is which memory locations to use. There must be a contiguous stretch of available memory locations large enough to accommodate the entire machine code, and these locations must not interfere with the specific "hardware" locations used by the computer in its functioning. Probably the best, and easiest place to store machine language code is on "page six". This refers to memory locations 1536 to 1791 (it's called page six because the memory locations in hexadecimal are 0600 to 06FF.). This area of memory, 256 bytes in length, has been set aside for just such a use; only rarely will the Atari require any of this space (for a response to an "INPUT" statement of more than 130 characters in length, some of these locations are used.). If your machine code is more than 256 bytes in length, then you must find another location to use for storage of at least the excess code, if not the entire program. If this is the case, you're probably a better assembly language programmer than I am, and don't need me to tell you how to handle this problem! Another consideration is how to store your machine code. The method with which most people are probably familiar is to store the program as a "binary" disk file. This is done by using the "Binary Save" option of DOS; these files are subsequently loaded again with the "Binary Load" option. This form of saving creates a special file on the disk which indicates to the computer that the following data file is to be placed into particular memory locations, which the user has specified. Many programs use this method, which is relatively fast, especially for larger programs. However, it is more difficult to access the code directly, and understand or modify it as you see fit. A second approach is to write a BASIC program which will "POKE" the necessary values into the proper memory locations, and then run the machine language via a "USR" command. This approach has the advantage of allowing access to the code, which usually consists of decimal representations of the hexadecimal codes in DATA statements. However, these numbers must be reconverted back into hexadecimal, and then looked up in a table to "disassemble" the code, unless a disassembler program which can read BASIC DATA statements is available. Also, the code must be typed in as decimal numbers, which means they probably had to be converted from hexadecimal in the first place! Another disadvantage is that this method is much slower to load into the computer, so that longer programs will entail a significant delay. The best approach is also one of the more limited. If the machine language code is in a form known as "relocatable", which means that it has no restrictions on absolute memory addresses (many programs do), then the numbers making up the code can be converted into their ASCII equivalents, and written as the characters of a string variable! This can be done easily to machine language programs in a different form by a BASIC program which reads each number, and then assigns the proper location within the string to the corresponding ASCII character. Then, the routine may be called from BASIC by using this command: X=USR(ADR(ML$)), where X is a dummy variable, and ML$ is the string containing the machine code. This method is one of my favorites in that it loads almost instantaneously, and can be easily used from within a BASIC program. However, it is limited to relocatable code, which has proven to be quite a limitation, indeed. I hope this introduction to machine language and its uses has been both interesting and valuable to you. Perhaps you, too, will find programming in machine or assembly language as challenging and rewarding as I do. [Ed. Look for PART 2 of this 5 part series next week in Zmag.] _______________________________________ Zmagazine 66 August 14, 1987 (c)1987 ______________________________________
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