Z*Net: 01-Jun-90 #522From: Kevin Steele (aj205@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 06/11/90-12:58:12 AM Z
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From: aj205@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Kevin Steele) Subject: Z*Net: 01-Jun-90 #522 Date: Mon Jun 11 00:58:12 1990 ////// // // ////// ////// // / /// // // // // /// // // // ////// // // / // /// // // ////// // // /////// // Z*Net Atari Online Magazine (=) 1990 by Rovac Industries, Inc. ======================================================================= Issue #522 June 1, 1990 ======================================================================= Publisher/Editor: Ron Kovacs Editor - John Nagy =============================== CONTENTS =============================== - Z*NET ATARI NEWSWIRE................................................. - Z*NET NEWSWIRE....................................................... - Z*NET DOWN-UNDER...........................................Jon Clarke - PD/SHAREWARE STOP..........................................Mark Quinn - PORTFOLIO PUBLIC DOMAIN SHELF..............................Ron Kovacs - LETTERS TO Z*NET........................................Grady Johnson - SO, YOU WANT TO BE AN ST HARDWARE DEVELOPER.................Jim Allen - USING TOS 1.4 AND NEODESK 2.05..............................Tom Blair =============================== Z*NET ATARI NEWSWIRE =============================== ERRATA: NO TOS 1.6 IN STACY Last week, Z*Net reported that Los Angeles Atari dealers received STACY portable computers. Within that story, we reported that the machines did not all seem to be alike, and that one store had TOS 1.6 in their machine. This is apparently not so, as it has been pointed out to us (abundantly!!) by programmers and developers that 1.6 cannot operate in a Stacy. The story originated directly from an ATARI employee who was on hand for extended attempts to set up the machine in question at one of the dealers, and it was his insistence that the Stacy "showed" that it had TOS 1.6. Bob Brodie of Atari has assured us that all STACY computers, whether prototype or production, have TOS 1.4. SURPRISE CHARGES TO WOA VENDORS At least one vendor who had a booth at the latest World of Atari show was recently surprised by unexpected bills. MID CITIES COMP/SOFT from the Los Angeles area, received a bill of $800 from Greyhound Exposition Services, supposedly to pay for services of union workers at the show. Manger Jane Hughes says that workers appeared at the dock when Mid Cities was unloading on Friday afternoon before the Anaheim WOA, and she was told that they were to move the equipment and stock. After waiting more than an hour for a positive answer as to whether they were required to use this service, she allowed them to do so, as did the other vendors she saw. Jane said that in the end, they were not given a choice, and that it was quite different than the previous year when they carried their own stock. She recalls no mention in any WOA show materials about extra charges for union workers, and she did not agree to any charges with anyone on the show site, so the bill was completely unanticipated when it arrived a month later. As the charges would wipe out much of what had been expected to be her company's profit from the show, she protested to Greyhound. They told her that all the dealers had to use their services, and that many of them have received their bills by now. Jane says that she has sent the bill and a letter of protest to Richard Tsukiji, promoter of the WOA shows. A few vendors got away without the union help. At least one dealer, SAN JOSE COMPUTER, is said to have gotten special permission from WOA management to move their stock in late on Friday night, and COMPUTER GAMES PLUS of Orange, California, arrived too late to unload Friday... but they were allowed to anyway, after the union workers had left for the day. Word from ATARI is that they paid over $3,000 to Greyhound for loading and unloading, despite volunteer workers from Southern California user groups doing 100% of the packing and setup/breakdown of their area. WOA VS. GLENDALE CONTINUES Richard Tsukiji has not made a public statement referring to his recently announced World of Atari show in August in San Jose, California, since being notified by Atari that they had major concerns about scheduling. However, we have reports that vendors have continued to be contacted by Tsukiji, who is still selling the show hard. When they asked him if Atari had committed to appear or to support the show, he is reported to have only said that Atari would be crazy not to support a show in their own backyard. Atari has provided all of the vendor equipment and advertising money for WOA shows to date. However, Atari has announced their commitment to support the user-group sponsored GLENDALE show in early September, as well as several industry shows in June, July, and August. There has been some talk of vender dissatisfaction with what they see as Tsukiji's indifference to concerns that his schedule will damage the Glendale show, and several have said privately that they will not attend further WOA shows as a consequence. ATARI OWES PORTFOLIO ROYALTIES: DIP, the UK company that designed the PORTFOLIO computer for Atari, is reported to claim that Atari has defaulted on their royalty payments for the units. Some $4 per unit sold was to have been paid to DIP for the continued use of their operating system. DIP is said to have cut off support for Atari regarding the Portfolio, pending resolution of the delinquent payments. A newer revision of DIP's operating system (2.11, version 1.1) is available now only in the machines sold under DIP's own brand, which are not available in the USA. It has been reported that Atari has similarly not paid CONNER, the hard drive manufacturer, for their drives being used in the STACY computer. This may be due to the design problems that may or may not have been completely resolved and that required many Stacy computers to be refitted with new drives. Industry observers are not surprised by the payment stalling, and say that this is fairly normal procedure for large companies who are trying to force a renegotiation of terms or to break a contract in order to deal with a new supplier. We all recall that it is the Tramiels who promote the saying, "Business is War". GFA UPDATE: GOOD NEWS? Bill Rehbock posted a copyright message in the ST RT Bulletin Board earlier today stating that a new and improved customer support and new and improved versions of GFA Basic would be coming soon. The US office for GFA Datamedia UK will be opening soon and Antic Publishing would no longer be distributing GFA Basic as of June 1, 1990. Along with the updated GFA Basic, other new utilities include GFA GEM Utilities, a collection of source code and bindings to make life with GEM much easier, and a new and improved shell to replace MENUX. =============================== Z*NET NEWSWIRE =============================== WESTERN UNION AND MCI Western Union and MCI have agreed to interconnect their public electronic mail services, which will allow the exchange of messages. Western Union 400 service will be interconnected with MCI Mail's XChange 400 service, using the international X.400 company's EasyLink public messaging service. Western Union announced previously that X.400 interconnections with AT&T Mail, SprintMail, General Electric Information Services and the IBM Information Network. NEW EDITOR John Dickinson, former executive editor of west coast operations for PC Magazine, has been hired as the monthly's editor, reporting to Editor- in-Chief Michael Edelhart. Preston Gralla has been named editorial director, responsible for designing new sections. WINDOWS 3.0 TEST DRIVE OFFER PC World and InfoWorld readers will be offered a "test drive" of Microsoft's new Windows Version 3.0. Disks containing a working copy of the software and a tutorial will be available to readers who return a postage-paid card. The card will be inserted in the July issue of PC World, which will be mailed to subscribers June 8 and will be on the newsstands starting June 19. The July issue also features a preview of Windows 3.0. Readers of the May 21 issue of InfoWorld also will have an opportunity to get the disk by completing a one-time-only postage-paid order card. PIRACY RAIDS The SPA announced last week that its court ordered raids earlier this month in LA at the National Business Academy resulted in seizures of more than 600 copies of allegedly illegal software valued at more than $250,000. Marshals acting on behalf of Lotus, Microsoft and WordPerfect in its May 8 raids on the Van Nuys, Inglewood and Glendale, Calif., locations. NBA is an adult vocational school that trains individuals in word processing and spreadsheet programs. The school is alleged to have illegally used, duplicated and distributed software produced by the three publishers. TWO SUITS SETTLED Apple announced it has settled two class action lawsuits filed against the company in 1989. The suits, Hussey vs. Apple Computer, and Zeid vs. Apple Computer, both alleged damages to persons who purchased Apple stock from Jan. 17 through Jan. 27, 1989, resulting from events occurring during January 1989. The settlement calls for Apple and its insurance company to pay a total of $5.65 million. NEW CHIPS National Semiconductor unveiled some new chips that are geared toward specific applications rather than general purpose functions. Two of the microprocessors are the first 32-bit processors that incorporate software-programmable digital signal processing and are designed for products such as laser-beam printers and fax machines. The NS32CG160 integrated system processor is geared for use in mid-range office peripherals including monochrome and color page printers and document scanners. UNINTERRUPTIBLE POWER SUPPLIES Exide Electronics announced uninterruptible power supplies for office environments. The Powerware Plus 5 is the first UPS system to provide customer configurable input/output voltage, phase and frequency with function key control and ease. It supports the power protection requirements of data processing, telecommunication, and process control applications. The Powerware Plus 5 is currently available through authorized distributors and manufacturing representatives. List price begins at $4,730. ULTRA 96 SMARTMODEM Hayes announced immediate North American availability of Hayes V-series ULTRA Smartmodem 9600 (ULTRA 96). ULTRA 96 provides CCITT V.32 for 9600 bps modulation enhanced with CCITT V.42bis error-control and data compression for data throughput up to 38.4 Kbps. AT&T SPONSORS CURRENT ISSUE OF COMPUTER RESELLER NEWS Computer Reseller News announced that a single advertiser, AT&T Computer Systems, is the sole sponsor of its issue published June 1, 1990. AT&T purchased all available 24 pages of the 48-page publication for use by itself and its resellers. The CRN midweek issue is timed for distribution at COMDEX. CRN, recently honored by the Computer Press Association as the best newspaper in the industry, will distribute the issue to its 64,000 weekly subscribers, as well as the COMDEX 10,000 attendees. MEDIAGENIC AND MAGNAVOX REACH AGREEMENT Mediagenic announced that they have reached an agreement with Magnavox for long term payment of the patent infringement damages awarded to Magnavox earlier this year. The agreement provides for monthly payments of $150,000 from July 1990 to Dec. 1993, with a balloon payment at Dec. 31, 1993. The agreement covers the $6.6 million in damages awarded in the previously announced decision in a patent infringement suit brought by Magnavox against Mediagenic (then Activision) in 1982. NINTENDO SUES ANOTHER Nintendo filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against Lewis Galoob Toys for copyright infringement. The suit claims a new Galoob product called Game Genie, which is designed for play with a Nintendo home video game system, creates "derivative" works of Nintendo copyrighted video games, in violation of U.S. law. Galoob's Game Genie is connected to a Nintendo video game cartridge and inserted into a Nintendo home video game hardware unit. When operated, Game Genie changes certain essential features of a Nintendo video game. An example of the changes, in Nintendo's Super Mario Bros video game, Game Genie can be used to alter the main character's speed or cause him to float through the air to avoid obstacles originally programmed into the game. The number of lives a player can lose before the game ends can be made indefinite and the player can skip entire levels of game play and take shortcuts to progressively more difficult worlds, or game levels, which a player must enter in order to complete the game. ELECTRONIC ARTS SIGNS MICHAEL JORDAN Electronic Arts announced it has signed a contract with Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan to help co-design multiple video and computer games. Electronic Arts plans for these products to be available for play on the Nintendo Entertainment System, in addition to other systems.   _   o(_) Z*Net Down Under   / /\ Z*Net Down Under    Communications   A NEW Breed of User  by  THE WALLIES  Jon Clarke  ---------------------------------------------------------- **-> Wallies Take your generosity and eat it for Lunch. <-** There is a new breed of modem user out there in modemland, worldwide. We have nick-named them "Wallies" or "Wally" for short. 'Wallies' are the users who call their local BBS and demand to have full access to all parts of the BBS after defaming your name and leaving messages that a policeman would cringe at. 'Wallies' are a strange breed of people. **-> If Wallies had their way they would download at 19200 baud <-** The 'Wallies' are the users who if they had their way would design a modem that uploads in 100 baud and downloads in 19200 baud. The fact that you have a upload/download ratio only serves to feed their need "to catch the SYSOP out". "Why upload new software to this BBS? We have a better idea. Lets upload a small text file we dloaded from here" Now that the 'Wallies' have split up an archive and resent the files, their upload/download ratio is set for a further download frenzie. There is a new cry among "Wallies", 'We want a comms program that will allow 10 megabytes of files to be downloaded in one session, and fool the upload/download ratios'. **-> It is Un-cool for a 'Wally' to logoff a BBS the normal way <-** The 'Wallies' will logon to the the BBS with the "Control C" key at the ready. Then when the system has been changed they will hail abuse in the message section at you for not telling them. It is not deemed "COOL" for a 'Wally" to check if there is any new system messages at logon. The BBS menu is the second biggest source of amusement to the "Wallies". They will win the "Wally of the week award" if they find some hidden menu option. Or get second place in this weeks awards if they find a series of keystrokes that will cause the BBS to 'CRASH'. **-> Wallies are in constant search for the thing called "TOS" <-** To win the 'Wally of the month award' a 'Wally' must not only crash a BBS, but also it appears find his or her way to the thing called "TOS". You can see them striving for this goal in many ways. By continual "hacks" at the menu prompts, allowing time outs in the "Doors" area, or the most common approach is to badger the SYSOP with messages or chats, demanding they be given "SYSOP status" so they can look at your system in depth. The later of these is by far the easiest way to spot a 'Wally'. After months of defamation of your BBS in the message base or in Email they will demand that you either give them access as a "SYSOP" or they will crash your BBS. I might point here if they do not make this demand at least once a month they will be deemed a 'useless Wally' by their peers. **-> A 'Wallies' sport is to see if the Sysop can catch them <-** To enhance the kudo's the 'Wallies' will receive from their peers they decide to logon to a BBS under many names. When they logon to the BBS they will page the "SYSOP" to see if he is around and if as expected by the 'Wally' he is not around he/she will continue their acts of terrorism against the innocent BBS. **-> Being caught by the SYSOP is part of the FUN <-** The 'Wallies' bask in glory the day the SYSOP nearly caught them. Tales of 'horror' and how they escaped detection from a SYSOP gives them a lot of mileage amongst their "Wally" friends. "Ah the SYSOP of a BBS deleted my USER id/ but he did not know I had 3 others. Now I will kill his BBS!!" The 'Wallies' see this as open season on a BBS when the SYSOP deletes one of their User numbers. How to spot a WALLY ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1/ Multiple User numbers. 2/ Constant message abuse, ie foul language in the message base. 3/ Stories of "HACKING a BBS", real hackers stay quite. 4/ Constant uploads of the same small unarchived, duplicated files. 5/ The next sequential file downloaded from the files section by another user. 6/ When you ring the user that is on-line and they say "WHAT IS A BBS?" 7/ Intimidation while on-line, or on the phone by a 'Wally' 8/ The guy who has a 60000 baud modem on his ST he dials the moon with. 9/ The people who will NOT read system messages/notices. 10/ The people how know it all and will NOT be TOLD, as they know best! oooooOOOooooo //////////////////////////////////////////////////////// // Gentlemen, Ten things not to do to your Girlfriend // ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////  Tell your girlfriend you have a computer  Admit to your girlfriend that your computer is your mistress  Use your computer when your girlfriend is at your house  Leave the modem on the line and blow your girlfriend's ear off  Propose to your ST instead of your girlfriend  Propose to your Girlfriend and when she says "no", say "Operator Error"  Confuse your girlfriend voice with that of the computers  Call your girlfriend "Atari" instead of 'Honey'  Tell her "Just a minute, I'll finish this", and arrive 3 days later  Tell her that you will fix the garden, the day you brought a new game [Caution "ST's" are jealous things] ----------------------------------------------------------------------- The End... Finish... End of File... EOF... Terminated at request ----------------------------------------------------------------------- =============================== PD/SHAREWARE STop =============================== by Mark Quinn File name: DBIIDEMO.LZH Author: Robert Luneski Program name: Diamond Back II demo File type: Utility ----------------------------------------------------------------------- I am one of the few hard drive owners who takes the "make frequent backups" rule seriously. Even before I was initiated into hard diskdom by the purchase of a used Supra, I backed up EVERYTHING I deemed worthy of keeping. This policy has failed me only once. Both copies of a text file died one day. It took enough time to reconstruct the file to drive home the necessity of making frequent backups. A one-dollar investment in another floppy is certainly preferable to the alternative: the loss of the time you've invested in the data on your hard drive. Diamond Back II is a means to the end of protecting your investment. It has the following features. (From the docs and help files.) - 100 percent GEM user interface - Extensive online help - Full or partial backup/restore of any number of drive partitions, directory paths, single directories, or specific files in a single pass - Flexible creation of backup sets from different paths or partitions - Wildcard masks to include or exclude files may be different for each path - Incremental backups by date/time or archive bit (TOS 1.4) - Load/save custom backup configurations - Automatic drive switching - Full or partial restore - Recreate original directory tree or specify new structure during restore - Flexible disk formatting options - Preformatted disks do not have to be the same type - Intelligent Image backup option - File compression and encryption available - Backup to floppies of other partitions - Create CRC validation logs from hard disk or floppy files - Backup and restore Spectre partitions - Create file listings during the backup or from floppy disks or selected paths - Turn verify on and off We bought a copy of this program several weeks ago, so I speak from experience. I had no problem backing up both partitions on my hard drive with D.B. II. I simply fed my GTS-100 unformatted disks, and the program filled them readily enough. Diamond Back II is a very well thought out program. This is the first and the last backup utility for the ST we'll have to buy. Quinn's Quickies ---------------- MVG_DEM5.LZH Update. Demo of "Dr. Bob's MultiViewer Graphica", which allows editing, printing, etc., of monochrome format files (IMG included). Many new features. KP_6_2DM.ARC Update. Demo version of Kidpublisher Professional, version 6.2. HYSCRN13.ARC Update of HyperScreen. Requires 1 megabyte to run. JAC_BALL.ARC Game. Blast your opponent silly in this simple game which pits two space ships against each other. DIRSORT.ARC Sorts file directories. Sorts folders, too. FONEVOIC.ARC Shareware by Albert Baggetta. Put a synthesized voice on your answering machine. Also has sound effects. GOODEMO.ARC Backup utility. Backup your hard disk files for safety's sake. BIGCOLOR.LZH Shareware. Emulates monochrome on the SC1224 monitor. CARTDEMO.ARC Demo of a level editor for Dungeon Master and Chaos Strikes Back. COLA_2.ARC Cost of Living Adjustment Calculator. Figures the value of commodoties through the years, taking inflation into account. SPACEWAR.ARC Keep your ship in orbit in the gravity well of a star while trying to defeat your opponent. VERSYS.ARC Shareware, utility. Performs date-stamped, incremental backup of files. Good for programmers, or anyone else who must make frequent backups. FCOPY30.LZH Utility. German copy program. Produces Spectre and MS-DOS formats. Contains English manual. PCXLOADR.LZH Loads D.E.G.A.S. Elite (.PC1 or .PC3) pics. PEANUT.ARC Game. Shareware by Albert Baggetta. Find out which one of a group of unsavory characters stole the peanut butter. KV_ME1ST.ARC Educational game. Put the drawings in the proper sequence. Reminiscent of many an IQ test. =============================== PORTFOLIO PUBLIC DOMAIN SHELF =============================== by Ron Kovacs The following files are now available in CompuServe's APORTFOLIO Forum. PARSE.ZIP Title : text file analyzer New version of parse, to eliminate the divide by zero error in certain cases. This program will display a count of characters, word, sentences, as well as a reading level. Modified for the Atari Screen. TIMEZN.ZIP Title : timezone This is a program to set the clock as you pass thur different time zones. TONE.ZIP Title : manual touch tone dialer This is a little manual dialer for the portfoilo. AAF.ARC Title : "Advance Australia Fair" AAF.ARC contains a batch file which will play the Australian national anthem through the Portfolio's tone generator while displaying the words to the first stanza. In order to use this file you must have an ANSI driver installed and you must have BEEP.COM by Bruce Coleman, both of which are available in the file YANKEE.ARC. DIAL.COM Title : Alphanumeric dial program. Small manual dialing program. Use numbers or letters, like normal touch-tone keypad. What should I do with Q & Z? Esc to exit. PC.ARC Title : Programmer's Calculator Programmer's Calculator manipulates and converts integers in hex, octal, binary, or decimal. ARC file contains .COM as well as user's guide document. Programmer's Calculator runs only on the Atari Portfolio. BATCH.ARC Title : Usefull batch files Very usefull batch files, they control the keyboard buffer and can be used for jobs like putting the portfolio into server mode, call somebody etc. FUNCTI.ARC Title : function analysis FUNCTIO.EXE is a program that uses the graphic capabilities of the ATARI Portfolio. The program plots X-Y diagrams from any equation the user supplies, where Y is a function of X. TODAY Title : TODAY lists your appointements for today. Today! Version 2.0, need 500 Bytes less. Make your daily use of your Diary much faster and easier. It lists your appointements for today. COPY1.ZIP Title : copy files from one CCM to another CCM A simple copy program to tranfer files ( 63k or less) from one memory card to another. PORT2W.ZIP Title : unwrap wordwrapped files A simple program to "unwrap" the portfoilo's editor files. PSTAT.ZIP Title : status display program A program to display the various setting on the portfolio. PTOOL.ARC Title : PORTOOLS.ARC - Portfolio Tool Kit Version 1.0 A set of useful utilities for the Atari Porfolio. Includes full documentation. Utilities include option setter, tone generator, file finder, disk information, system information routines. =============================== LETTERS TO Z*NET =============================== The following is a letter lost and later found that we failed to include a few weeks ago. Although it is late, I feel it is important to pass the word. - Ed. Ron, I am in a bad situation here and was wondering if perhaps you and Z*Net may be able to help me out? On 10/22/87, I bought a 2400 bps modem from Communications Electronics, Inc. The price of the modem was $200 and came with a 5 yr limited warranty. The modem did eventually go on the blink, so I called CEI and they gave me the number for the manufacturer of the modem and also the warranty holder, InComm Data Systems, Inc., located in Wheeling, Illinois. I called InComm Data and told them the modem was in need of repair, so they gave me an RMA number (Returned Merchandise Authorization) #900-180. I sent them the modem and a letter describing the problems I was having with it on Feb-13-90, by UPS, 2nd day air. They told me on the phone that it generally took 3-5 days for all modem repairs. As of March-15-90, I still had not received the modem, so I called them and they verified that they had received the modem on Feb-15-90, but it had not been repaired as of that date. As a matter of fact, the box had not even been opened. I spoke to service manager Brad Grinstead, told him of the problem and gave him my voice number. He said he would check it out and get back with me, which he never did. As of Apr-10-90, I still had not received any word of my modem, so I called InComm Data once again. I asked for Brad Grimstead, service manger and also Vice President of the company. Well, Brad Grimstead was busy, so I left him my voice number once again so he could return my call. As a matter of fact, I called InComm Data 4 times that day, on Apr-10-90, getting absolutely no response from Brad Grimstead whatsoever. The only help I did receive was from whomever happened to answer the phone. I also called an attorney that same day and he informed me that there really aren't ANY laws to protect consumers in a situation like this. Court costs, etc., would make almost any action against InComm Data impractical. So, as to this date, I really don't think InComm Data even intends to return my modem. I have been running my BBS on a modem loaned to me by a good friend and it looks like I will have to go buy a new modem to run my BBS on and forget about the $200 I invested in my original modem from InComm Data Systems. The only re-course I have is in messages such as this one to advise other potential modem buyers/users to avoid purchasing a modem manufactured by InComm Data Systems. One would think the Federal Government would have laws protecting consumers against warranty fraud but I have now talked to 2 attorneys and they both inform me there is nothing to be done. So, to others, PLEASE check the manufacturer of the modem if you intend to purchase a new modem or add one to your existing equipment. My story I have presented to you is 100% true and pure fact...I have all receipts, warranty slips, etc., to prove this to anyone who is a dis-believer. Please don't make the same mistake I did. You will be sorry if your modem ever needs to be repaired. It has been 55+ days and my modem still has not been returned and I get no response at all from InComm Data Systems. Grady Johnson Sysop of Fantasy Island BBS 419-691-6459 Oregon, Ohio =============================== SO, YOU WANT TO BE AN ST HARDWARE DEVELOPER =============================== by Jim Allen Reprinted by permission from the April/May 1990 Issue of ST Journal Magazine Volume 1, Issue 1. ST hardware developer - sounds like a glamorous and exciting occupation, but the truth is, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy - well, maybe I _would_. The first thing you need to know about the ST is that it is a very simple computer. The design is straight-forward. (The block diagram would be as busy as a Death Valley roadmap.) Motorola 68000 based computer designs are very sensible; no funny timing relationships, no esoteric circuits. All you really need is the databook, available from Motorola for the asking. Think of the 68000 as, not the "Model T," but the "Model A" of computer chips; not the first chip, but just as utilitarian and replete with optional extras as the original. The second thing you need to *know about the ST is that it is also a very complicated computer and has been very carefully designed. Atari built it as both a 68000 (simple) computer, and a DMA equipped (complex) computer. The element that sets the ST apart from other computers is the DMA feature. This same feature also makes the ST significantly faster than the Mac Plus. The ST also has a complex video design. Its video system (invisible to the 68000) is a special kind of DMA where memory information is sent to the screen without interfering with the 68000 and its duties. This requires a memory that is twice as fast as would normally be needed. And, since it is twice as fast, the memory meets the information needs of both the 68000 and video circuit without interference to either. The reason I am so negative about being a hardware developer for the ST is that this complication has led Atari to take some shortcuts. The video circuit, and, indeed, all the ST circuits, make assumptions about the type and speed of the processor with which the system is equipped. Flexibility has been omitted in order to achieve the high degree of integration the ST represents. This leaves hardware designers in a tough position. There is no formal documentation on the circuits; no theory of operation manuals to ease the task of providing enhancements to the basic ST design. Each developer is on his/her own to reverse engineer the ST circuits in order to come to an understanding of the ST. In the case I am most familiar with, that of Fast Technology, it took months behind an oscilloscope and logic analyzer before we fully understood the design. For us, this has paid off; for others, it has led only to failure. Atari didn't really want the ST to be upgraded. They, didn't incorporate any means for the customer to expand memory or enhance performance. It is this difficulty of wedging into a fixed design that has made so many companies come and go in the ST market. There have been at least 30 memory-upgrade board manufacturers; some great, some terrible. But all faced the incredible challenge of going where no man has ever been before, or has even been wanted. If you can get past this obstacle and come to understand the ST well enough to alter it, then you may have the right stuff. As long as you know, going in, that there are 9 revisions of the ST motherboard (there's at least one I haven't seen); as long as you know the only place to get schematics is from an Atari dealer; as long as you know that there are many versions and revisions of the custom chips, some of which don't work too well; and, as long as you've been warned, you'll be ok. Once past the obstacles, you will be faced with a sometimes hostile developer community. Some members of this community, especially the 'importers', will do anything they can to stop you. Importers, typically, don't develop products; they just package and sell them. Therefore, they have no respect for the work you have done. Always expect to be bushwhacked early and often. If you have a competitive product and go up against the "big" guys, you will have a rough journey. Success takes more than just a superior product and you must work just as hard as you would if you were in the Mac or PC market. While there are fewer competitors in the ST market, there are also fewer customers and those customers are much more careful with their money. There may be 80,000 STs in North America, but I suspect most are buried in closets across the continent. Expect to reach only a few thousand people with your product. So far, the most successful single product in the Atari field is the Mac emulator, Spectre, by Gadgets by Small. Gadgets has an extremely unique and complicated product that addresses a real need... want. Other, more specialized, devices sell in only a few dozen units rather than thousands. THE RULES Rule #1: Make sure the price is right. Always price your product so you will definitely make money. You must at least make back your investment in R&D or all you'll have is a hobby. Don't think that lowballing the price will bring the flocks to your door; people will pay for a product that is well executed and solves a problem. Charge what the product is worth, not what some people tell you they would pay. Rule #2: Do your market research. You need to understand the problem before you can administer the cure. Never take on a product that "sounds' as if it will be a winner. Everyone will tell you that they want to put blitter chips in their 520/1040 STs. It sounds simple, right? Wrong! The cost of the chip is so high that no one would actually pay what it's worth. The blitter doesn't provide $150 worth of speed-improvement, so, no one will pay for it. But, everyone will tell you that it would make a great product. Market research doesn't mean going out and asking people what they want (they'll tell you they want the moon and the stars... free!); it means asking them what "problems" they are having. You need to find the root motivations behind the desire. People want the blitter chip because they think it will speed up their computers. They wanted speed not the blitter, specifically. So, go further and analyze this need for speed. This analysis is what led us at Fast Technology to build the Turbo16. We realized that the need for speed went way beyond drawing lines. It was obvious that people wanted a faster computer and were willing to pay the price. The blitter chip was merely the device they thought would get speed for them. In your product area, you must know what will get the best results. You must develop the solution that makes the customer happy and makes you money. Rule #3: Know your pundits. There are a few well-respected individuals in every market who can help you get your foot in the door. These are the same people you have listened to in the past. Dave Small is one example; he always tells it like it is. When it comes to your product, both you and your customers-to- be can count on him. It is especially important with hardware that you get the word out right away. You can circulate prototypes among the pundits and let them get the feel of your product. This can go a long way in establishing a high level of anticipation for your product. Rule #4: Contact all developers whom your product might affect. Let them have access to it as soon as possible so that they can address any incompatibilities in advance. You will quickly learn whom you can rely on for help and whom you cannot. Most developers are very helpful and friendly and will bend over backwards to help you. Some names that come to mind: Gadgets by Small, ISD; Avant Garde; Codehead; Gribnif, ICD; Practical Solutions; and a few others. These people have been there; they know what you face and will ease your entry into a tough occupation. Rule #5: Contact *Atari and let them know what you are doing. Become a registered developer and ask for all the help you need. Don't expect to get it, but ask. Actually, Atari is changing and trying to be very helpful. They don't have tremendous resources, and some things just aren't documented, but most of their engineering staff, although they can't be of much help, will be glad to offer what information and advice they can. Atari can help you with sales leads and other matters and will help support you at trade shows. Get to know who's who so you can ask the appropriate person for help. Rule #6: Get to know the press... both printed magazines and online services magazines. They'll help you reach your market through advertising. Get all the free publicity you can; there's no such thing as too much. Persuade the press to do reviews - a "preview' review at first, then an in-depth review once the market is aware of your existence. Have press releases and good, catchy brochures printed, and hand them out freely. Rule #7: Rely on local user groups. Visit them early on and use them to judge acceptance of your product and marketing methods. Drum up business locally as early as possible so you can find and solve any problems within driving distance. Use a limited -beta tester... someone who will use your product to death in return for getting a price break. I can't tell you how valuable such a person can be, especially if, as a "special' customer, he has money invested in your product. ENOUGH FOR NOW Those are the rules for now. Knowing all this, if you still want to be a developer, then you might just have the right stuff. Next time, I'll tell you about all the business pitfalls to avoid. ================================ USING TOS 1.4 AND NEODESK 2.05 ================================ by Tom Blair Reprinted from the May 1990 Issue of the Puget Sound Atari News Well I just installed the TOS 1.4 chips in my old 520ST and the experience was both good and bad. I really like the new TOS (too bad it took so long to get and it costs so much). I did spend a GREAT DEAL OF TIME getting everything to work properly. Here is the key... If you use TOS 1.4 and run Neodesk then you should put SHEL_FIX.PRG in your auto folder, AS THE LAST PROGRAM TO RUN. SHEL_FIX.PRG comes with NEODESK but Gribnif Software never mentioned that it should be run last. I was running Mouse Doubler and the ICD Timeset program after it and nothing seemed to work. I have had no trouble since I reordered the programs in my AUTO folder. I won't repeat the explanation that Gribnif gives for needing SHEL_FIX.PRG but suffice to say that I did not need it under TOS 1.0. After installing the new TOS and using Neodesk, I found that Flash would crash when I hit the right mouse button. Phasar 3.0 also crashed. I was beginning to think that I was not going to be able to use Neodesk, which I really like. Anyway, I hope this saves somebody from the aggravation that I experienced. The improvements in TOS 1.4 have been mentioned several places (i.e., START, Jan. 1990). In my opinion, Atari should have come out with it much earlier. Secondly, since it fixes a number of bugs in the old TOS, the user shouldn't have to pay ~$125.00 to have it installed. OK, the new TOS contains several "enhancements" as well as "fixes." This is really a matter of your perspective. I consider TOS 1.4 the operating system that Atari should have had from the very beginning. It is clear that TOS 1.0 was a rushed job. It contained several bugs and did many things very inefficiently. I realize that any design can be improved but TOS 1.0 simply left too much room for improvement. I think that Atari should be willing to just cover costs in supporting good customers who want to upgrade. I know, everybody has lots of free advice for Atari Corp. The most noticeable feature of TOS 1.4 is the disk read/write speed improvement. Based upon my simple test of saving a Word Writer file to my hard disk, it is faster by a factor of 3. Since I no longer need (nor can use) TURBODOS.PRG, I have gained over 100k of memory and still have the same speed. I also gained same memory by eliminating several TOS 1.0 patches from my AUTO folder. After all, the name of the game is speed and memory, right? That's what most computer improvements boil down to. To summarize, I am very glad I installed TOS 1.4 even though I was unsure at times. I would strongly recommend it if its cost was $50.00. At the current price, I still think it's worth it but it makes the decision a little tougher. I feel much better about it - having thrown a few stones at Atari. Thanks for reading. ======================================================================= ======================================================================= Z*Net Atari Online Magazine is a weekly released publication covering the Atari community. Opinions and commentary presented are those of the individual authors and do not reflect those of Rovac Industries. Z*NET and Z*NET ONLINE are copyright 1990 by Rovac Industries, PO Box 59 Middlesex, New Jersey 08846. Reprint permission is granted as long as Z*NET ATARI ONLINE, Issue Number and author is included at the top of the article. Reprinted articles not to be edited without permission. ======================================================================= ======================================================================= ZNET ATARI ONLINE MAGAZINE Atari News FIRST! Copyright (c)1990 Rovac Industries, Inc.. ======================================================================= -- Kevin Steele (aj205.Cleveland.Freenet.Edu) --
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