Z*Net: 19-Oct-90 #542From: xx004
Date: 10/21/90-10:38:06 PM Z
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From: xx004 Subject: Z*Net: 19-Oct-90 #542 Date: Sun Oct 21 22:38:06 1990 =========(((((((((( ==========((( ==(( ==((((((( ==(((((((( =========== ================(( ====(( ====(((( =(( ==(( ==========(( ============== =============(( =====(((((( ==(( (( (( ==((((( =======(( ============== ==========(( ==========(( ====(( =(((( ==(( ==========(( ============== =========(((((((((( ==========(( ==((( ==((((((( =====(( ============== (c)1990, RII Z*NET ATARI ONLINE MAGAZINE October 19, 1990 Issue #542 Publisher/Editor : Ron Kovacs Assistant Editor : John Nagy Z*Net New Zealand: Jon Clarke Z*Net Canada: Terry Schreiber Z*Net Germany: Mike Schuetz Z*Net England: Paul Glover Contributor: Bob Dolson Reprints Ctsy of: Puget Sound Atari News ST-Journal Magazine ======================================================================= Z*NET NEWSWIRE ============== Atari News First ELIE KENAN LEAVES RESIGNS ATARI US AND CANADA; GREG PRATT NAMED MANAGER Story by John Nagy for Z*NET It is official: Atari employees have confirmed that the widely praised and respected new General Manager for Atari USA, CANADA, and FRANCE has resigned from the position. Elie Kenan, who just weeks ago was discussing future plans for ATARI with developers at the WAACE and GLENDALE Atari Shows, has returned to France where he will continue to work as France's General Manager. Mr. Kenan has declined to accept the appointment for the USA and Canada. Some developers and others have suggested that Kenan may have simply gone to the already scheduled Atari show in France, and that as such, there is no truth to the story of his departure from Atari USA and Canada. Others have said that, until Atari makes a formal statement, nothing should be said or discussed. This position may be partly due to a hope that Elie's decision is not final and that the public should be spared the anguish of the truth until it is proven to be unreconcilable. For whatever good intent or self deception may be causing these comments, it remains a verified fact: Elie has turned down the appointment as General Manager of Atari USA and Canada. Although the complete reasons for Kenan's departure, after so much public exposure and acclaim, may never be completely known, it is said by those close to the situation that the "official" comment from Atari will be that Kenan found the USA to be too large, too culturally different from the Socialist France he is used to. However, it is known that after the WAACE show in early October, Kenan went alone to examine sites in the Boston area. Kenan had preliminary reports done earlier for a possible relocation of Atari USA to the Boston area, and speculation is that he had found some sites that he wished to seriously consider. Shortly after returning to Sunnyvale, Kenan met with Jack Tramiel, his long time friend and the Chairman of the Board for Atari, the man who hired Kenan to come to Sunnyvale from France. The subject matter of that meeting is unknown, but Kenan then returned to France after some hasty farewells to Atari employees. It is suspected by some that Kenan's change of heart may have been prompted by some refusal by Tramiel of the control and free hand he had been promised in the re-shaping of Atari in the US. On Friday, October 12, 1990, Greg Pratt was introduced to ranking employees as the new General Manger for Atari USA. Pratt is a longtime Atari officer from the Finance department who also ran the ill-fated Federated Stores operation near the end of that affair. Pratt had, for a time, been attempting to procure a leveraged buy out of the troubled Federated Stores from Atari for himself and other investors. While Pratt is thought by many at Atari to be a competent replacement for Kenan, reaction has been widespread and uniform - shock and fear of what this may mean for Atari is being expressed among employees and developers who met with Kenan and had high hopes for his plans at Atari. A depression has set in at Atari Corp. that will most certainly now spread to every corner of the Atari community. Z*Net has heard from several sources that Jack Tramiel is travelling to France to try to talk Kenan into changing his mind. If he succeeds and Kenan does come back to the USA, it may signify a momentous event: the first time that the iron grip of the Tramiel family has been pried open by an outsider. If Kenan can be persuaded to return to Atari USA, his power will be more consolidated and unquestioned than before, and he may be even more effective. Only time will tell. Z*Net will continue to follow this story and will bring you special updates if the facts merit. VP JIM FISHER QUITS ATARI The Vice President of Atari (USA) for Advertising and Marketing, Jim Fisher resigned from Atari last week. It appears that Fisher's decision was made before it was known that Elie Kenan was leaving, and was not influenced by that event. No details have been officially released, but it is said that Fisher's resignation was entirely his own idea. Fisher had recently taken a more active part in preparation and planning of advertising for Atari, moving from a marketing-only orientation. A successor has not been named. A NEW PUBLISHER ST/UPGRADE? Atari users of the original and still popular PUBLISHER ST by Timeworks have long eyed the new PUBLISH IT versions for the MAC and IBM, and wished for the new features and speed offered to other platforms. The current Atari version has not been upgraded from 2.01 for several years. However, it appears that the original maker of PUBLISHER ST, GST HOLDINGS in the UK, has in fact completed a new ST version, and that Atari France may even sell it under their own label as "ATARI PAGE". Will this title make it across the big water? We can certainly hope so! ATARI PHILADELPHIA PLANT FORMALLY DEAD In March, 1990, Atari announced that it would purchase an old Commodore plant in Philadelphia, PA, to build liquid crystal display units. In an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer dated September 30, 1990, it was announced that the deal had fallen through and that another company has arranged to buy the facility. It would have been a $5.2 million dollar plant, with 200 jobs, but Atari dropped the deal before financing was arranged. The article says that it was unknown why Atari backed out. NEW TOS LEAKED TO PIRATES A file being known as "TOS 2" has been circulating on private bulletin boards for several weeks. Loaded as an AUTO file with TOS 1.4, this program provides an early version of the new TT Desktop which will operate on an ST. While the idea of using it is attractive, Atari reminds users both that the file is a STOLEN, PIRATED file that belongs to Atari, and that it is an early version that is known to be incomplete and unstable. Use of "TOS 2" is both illegal and unsafe to your system data. Please do what you can to eliminate "TOS 2" from distribution. The completed new GEM and TOS will NOT be called TOS 2, by the way. It is being called "TOS 030" in the USA and "TOS 3.01" by the press in Germany, and will come in chip form for the TT only, although it is expected to be compatible with the STe machine design. If Atari produces a future STe based MEGA computer, it is expected to also feature the new TOS/Desktop, and to share the TT case and hard drive design. If ever built, a MEGA STe would also be card-compatible with the VME bus of the TT, and might be running a 68000 at 16 Mhz. ATARI TAIWAN INDICTED Atari's Taiwan subsidiary has been indicted in Taiwan for allegedly using pirated copies of common software programs, according to a recent UPI report. A criminal indictment for copyright infringement was handed down against Atari Taiwan Manufacturing Corp and two employees earlier this month. The indictment followed a court-ordered search of the company in April that turned up several suspected unauthorized copies of Ashton Tate's dBase III Plus software and Lotus Development Corp.'s Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program. According to the UPI story, Atari said the unauthorized programs were used by two employees without the company's knowledge and against its policy. The company accused the BSA of blowing the case, which involved less than a dozen pirate copies, far out of proportion. "Being a computer company, we are very sensitive to the software community," said August Liguori, vice president of finance. "We fight this kind of (piracy) all the time. It would be foolish for us to cheat our own peers over a few hundred dollars." MICROSOFT SUPPORT FOR APPLE Microsoft announced support for the Apple Macintosh IIsi, Apple Macintosh LC and Apple Macintosh Classic, which were introduced Monday, October 15th. Microsoft support includes integration of sound capabilities into some of its applications, as well as the continued offering of Microsoft Works, a product for new computer users. APPLES LOWER COST MACINTOSH Apple announced new low-cost Macintosh products this week. These new products reduce the price by 50 percent. The computers were designed to reach new customers in business, government, education and the home. The newest systems are the Apple Macintosh Classic, Apple Macintosh LC, and the Apple Macintosh IIsi. The Macintosh LC is a totally new modular design. HYUNDAI'S 16MHZ LAPTOP Hyundai has announced a 16MHz 80386SX laptop, the Super-LT5, that features a backlit LCD VGA screen, 0 wait states, 2MB RAM installed, and a 40MB hard drive. It weighs in under 12 pounds (including battery), and is priced at $3,995. MOTOROLA UPDATE Motorola announced this week the 68HC16 (HC16), the first 16-bit microcontroller family that is compatible with an industry standard 8-bit product line. The cpu of the HC16 is based on a 16-bit implementation of Motorola's popular 68HC11 (HC11) microcontroller, making the HC16 source code compatible with the 8-bit HC11 family. The HC16 is a modular design utilizing implementation of existing modules of Motorola's 68300 family. The 68HC16Z1 will be available in sample quantities in second quarter 1991. Production volumes are expected in third quarter 1991 and will be priced at $25 in 1K quantities. An HC16 evaluation system is in development and will be available first quarter 1991. For more information contact Motorola, 408-982-0400. CBS RECORDS TO CHANGE ITS NAME CBS Records announced this week that it will change its name to Sony Music Entertainment Inc., effective Jan. 1. The change is required under the terms of the January 1988 acquisition agreement between CBS Inc. and Sony Corp., which allowed Sony to use CBS as a stand-alone name for a limited time, expiring in Jan. 1991. The name change will not affect the company's record labels. NINTENDO LOSES ANTI-RENTAL BATTLE The House Judiciary Committee has dealt a blow to Nintendo's battle to stop rental of its game cartridges by removing that provision from the Software Protection Bill. The bill is expected to come up for vote by the full house next week. AUTODESK LOSES Autodesk, distributor of Autocad has had its court decision overturned after an appeal by the defendant. Dyason had originally been found guilty of supplying a device which enabled pirate versions of the software to be used. The device in question is a dongle - a hardware identity key which sits on the parallel port of a PC and is regularly interrogated by the software to ensure that the installation is legal. Dyason had been convicted on the charge of supplying counterfeit dongles, but it won its appeal. APPLE POSTS INCOME Apple reported revenues and operating profits for the fiscal year which ended Sept. 28, 1990. Apple's net revenues were $5.558 billion, a 5 percent increase over the $5.284 billion recorded in fiscal 1989. Net income for the full year was $474.9 million, a 5 percent increase from the prior year. A year ago, Apple reported net income of $454.0 million, which included $48.0 million from the sale of Apple's common stock holdings of Adobe Systems Incorporated. MUGSHOT REVIEW ============== by Bob Dolson (aka LE SYSOP of Fnet node 168 - C.C.B.B.S.) (Or how to have fun making faces at people without really trying) First of all a disclaimer. I am not a writer by any means so all awkward discussions herein are strictly my own and no one else should be blamed for them. You might wonder why the sub-title up above. Well, I am not the artistic type and have never been much good at drawing faces (or anything else for that matter). That is, until I went to the WAACE ATARIFEST down in Reston Virginia on the 6th of October of this year. At the 'fest of course, there were many wonderful things to be seen. But my main goal in attending the 'fest was to meet face to face the likes of Chet Walters (a.k.a. THE WHIZ and author of MUGSHOT, among other wonderful programs such as IMG CAT, etc etc). Well sure enough, Chet was there and in fine form I might say. He was accompanied in his booth by Dr. Bob (who has many fine ST programming credits to his name also!), and their able bodied assistant Dave Rudie (who would later be taking 'mug shots' of volunteers for later inclusion on a disk of data files for MUGSHOT). Needless to say, I immediately volunteered for the mugshot promo and in fact if I remember right, I was the second one to do so. One of my friends and the guy who drove his van down with a load of us in it was next in line for the 'mugshot videocam'. But I digress, so on with the review. I plunked down my money (37.95 for the version in a brown paper bag (ecology counts and it shaved $2 off of the price)). Shades of Dave Small's original Magic Sac! Anyhow, I eventually got home and had an opportunity to give MUGSHOT a run. I ran the registration program and while I was in that frame of mind, filled out the registration postcard and stuck it in the mail. There is very good reason for doing this, since the current version of MUGSHOT is not yet complete (though if they didn't mention that in the booklet you'd never know it!) and neither are the docs quite complete. If you send in your registration, you'll be rewarded in a short time with a completely new version of MUGSHOT (which will also have drawing functions so that (I assume) you can customize even further the 'mugs' that you create. You'll also receive a new and more detailed version of the documentation. And now to the meat of the matter! This program is AWESOME! It has more flexibility than your average Siamese cat! If you have ever used any other 'facemaker' type of programs for the ST (FUNFACE IS ONE and MACAMUG for the Mac is a popular item for the Spectre crowd) you will see that a comparison will greatly favor MUGSHOT. You can actually grab any feature with the mouse and move it to wherever you want in addition to being able to move it with arrows like normal. You can stretch any feature, squash it, and in either horizontal, vertical, or both at once! If you mess up really bad, you can have the program put all the parts back into their default positions. You can load other MGS files (these are the files that have the parts for the faces) and I believe MGS files could be created for anything you wanted to build, not just faces. It seems as if the icons representing the parts are loaded with the MGS file, but I could be wrong. You can save your creations in .MUG format (native data file which is usually very small (around 500 bytes), PI? (where ? is either a 2 or 3 depending on whether you're running MUGSHOT in medium or high rez mode). You can also save in .IMG format and I believe the format is compressed IMG. One of the niftiest features of the program is the ability to have it go into 'animation' mode, where it just goes about creating an endless array of faces on it's own! You can stop it where ever you like and another neat feature is the ability to 'lock' MUGSHOT so you can let your pre-schoolers play with it and they can't do anything but manipulate the parts, they can't load or save or anything potentially hazardous to your drives! This feature would also be nice for demos in stores and such. Oh, you can also 'flip' and 'flop' any part either horizontally or vertically. You can also split any part into two parts. The version that I bought came with two MGS files, one is for the more or less standard 'criminal' type of faces, and the other one (called TUNES01.MGS) is a set of parts to make up hilarious caricatures of your friends, enemies, etc. The program will run on as little as 512k of memory (if you don't have enough memory to load an MGS file into memory, the program will give you a visual indication of that and you must leave the disk with the MGS file that didn't fit in the drive so it can spool the part that you might need in from disk). MUGSHOT will also work on big screen monitors and it isn't copy protected so you can run it from anywhere. There are keyboard equivalents for just about everything and the function keys can be used to choose which part you want to work on. All in all, this is a VERY well thought out program and my congratulations go out to Chet, and all who helped him in the creation of this unique program! May he sell a million or two copies of it!! CHICAGO ATARIFEST V2.0 ====================== Lake County Atari Computer Enthusiasts are proud to present "Chicago AtariFest" to be held November 11th (Sunday) 1990 at the American Legion Gurnee Post located at W. Grand and Il. Rt. 21 (just 1 mile east of I-94 and the "Great America" theme park). The show will open to the public at 10:00 AM and will run until 4:00 PM. General admission will be $2.00 in advance, $3.00 at the door. Children under 6 will be admitted free with a paying adult. All paid admissions will have a chance at one of several valuable door prizes to be awarded at various times during the day. For more information on advance ticket sales and general show information, please contact LCACE at P.O. Box 8788, Waukegan, IL 60079-8788. A special show message base is available on the Python BBS, (708) 680-5105 300/1200/ 2400 24hrs. ------ Exhibitors/Developers -------- CodeHead Software DataQue Products P.O. Box 74090 P.O. Box 134 Los Angeles, CA 90004 Ontario, OH 44862 John Eidsvoog Chuck Steinman Brumleve Software M-S Designs P.O. Box 4195 611 W. Illinois Urbana, IL 61801-8820 Urbana, IL D.A. Brumleve Carl Stanford Reeve Software Atari Interface Magazine 29 Old Farm Lane 3487 Braeburn Cir. Warrenville, IL 60555 Ann Arbor, MI Alan Reeve Bill and Pattie Rayl Atari Portable Ent. Magazine ICD, Inc. 2104 Kostner 1220 Rock Street Chicago, IL 60639 Rockford, IL Clinton Smith Tom Harker Compuserve Information Service WizWorks! P.O. Box 20212 P.O. Box 45 Columbus, OH 43220-0212 Girard, OH 44420 Ron Luks Dr. Bob ------- Vendors/Dealers ---------- Mars Merchandising Computer Cellar 15 W. 615 Diversey 220 1/2 W. Main Street Elmhurst, IL 60126 St Charles, IL 60174 Paper Express H and H Computer Supplies P.O. Box 1036 824 Grafield Ave. Moline, IL 61265-1036 Aurora, IL 60506 Kolputer Systems CSA Limited 18 Burgess Dr. P.O. Box 567530 Glendale Hgts, IL Harwood Heights, IL 60656 Apple Annie ReCharge It 1005 S. Hamlin 866 Tower Rd. Park Ridge, IL 60068 Mundelien, IL 60060 -------- User Groups --------- L.C.A.C.E. S.C.A.T. Lake County Atari Computer Enthusiasts Suburban Chicago ATarians P.O. Box 8788 8702 Osceola Waukegan, IL 60079-8788 Niles, IL 60648 MilAtari M.A.S.T. Milwaukee Atari Users Group Milwaukee Atari ST Group P.O. Box 14038 P.O. Box 25679 West Allis, WI 53214 Milwaukee, WI 53225 G.C.A.C.E. R.A.C.C. Greater Chicago Atari Comp. Enthu Rockford Atari Cptr Club P.O. Box 6706 4658 Black Oak Tr. Chicago, IL 60614-6706 Rockford, IL 61103 L.A.U.G. T.U.G. Local Atari Users Group The Users Group 1N361 Ridgeland Av. P.O. Box 66583 W. Chicago, Il 60185 AMF O'Hare. IL 60666 PRINTER BASICS - PART ONE ========================= by John Picken Everything You Wanted To Know About Using Your Printer! (Reprinted from the Puget Sound Atari News, October 1990) Many computer owners claim the "raison d'etre" for their system is productivity software - data base, word processor, etc. At least, that's how they justify the time and money spent to a disbelieving spouse; after all, Rule 1 of personal computing is: "Never admit to owning a joystick". Assuming the owner is actually going to use the system for more than PacMan, the most important component becomes the printer. Application software is nearly worthless without a means of presenting permanent results. Unfortunately, the printer is often the most under utilized component in a system because it is the least understood. Using a printer is not terribly complex though it sometimes seems so because of the instruction manual. Usually, all the information you need to learn to control any printer can be found in its manual, albeit with some errors. You often get better results by regarding the manual as a collection of hints to provide a basis for experimentation. Why this is so is anyone's guess, but you can add this to the collected wisdom of Murphy: "Quality of documentation varies inversely with printer sophistication." Printers come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. They may be broadly categorized by the way they mark the paper. Laser machines produce superb results at a superb price. It is my understanding that they print using techniques similar to Xerography but I haven't really looked into them because of lack of opportunity (read "lack of dollars") to play with one. "Letter Quality" printers produce characters by the single impact of a complete form, whether it be on a wheel, drum, ball or typewriter key. This category runs from top of the line "Daisy Wheel" machines down to the old Atari 1027. Prices range from high to low and, correspondingly, speeds from fast to dead slow. All however, have two common characteristics: First, if character size and style is changeable, it can only be accomplished by replacing the printing element. Second, they are mechanically complex and usually noisy. "Dot Matrix", the most commonly used printers, produce images by patterns of dots similar to the way an image is drawn on a television. Dots may be formed by ink jets or thermal paper but most commonly, are produced by "pins" striking a ribbon over the paper. "Nine-Pin" dot matrix machines are the subject of this discussion. While it is possible to find older models with fewer, the standard is nine pins, though only eight are normally used at any one time. The pins, also called "wires", are arranged in a vertical column. Images are produced by moving this column across the page while "firing" or "striking" the pins in various combinations. The difference from a television is that the printer does up to nine rows of pins at a time. Why use only eight of nine, and why these numbers in the first place? Well, eight is the closest thing you will find to a "magic number" in the world of computing because a "byte", which is normally the smallest usable amount of data, is always made up of eight bits. The printer is able to interpret the bits separately, so the bits of a single byte can be used to control firing of eight pins. The ninth pin is there for things like underlining or descenders on lower case letters. The printer normally only uses eight pins but it may switch between the top or bottom eight. Try underlining on most printers and you'll notice that the underline runs into lower case descenders. There are nine-pin graphics modes but they are rarely used as a complete second data byte is required for the addition of only one more pin. Essentially, you can ignore the existence of the ninth pin unless you want to get into more advanced subjects like download characters. "27-Pin", also called "24-Pin", printers are nearly identical, but have three such pin columns mounted closely side by side with a slight vertical offset between each. This arrangement produces much higher quality characters than is possible with nine pins. Once you get beyond simple text printing, these become more complex as you obviously need at least one byte to control eight of the pins in each of the three columns and the equivalent of the nine-pin mode would require a total of six data bytes. The key to understanding how dot matrix printers work, and therefore, what is and is not possible, lies in the name. They cannot produce any image other than a "Dot" - everything they print is formed from dots. The "Matrix" part of the name describes something which, physically, does not exist. It is a human concept represented by a collection of bytes in the printer's memory. The printer's "Firmware" (program in ROM) interprets these as a pattern of pins to fire to form a particular character. Mechanically, that's it: the printer can produce only dots. Firmware and software control pin firing, paper feed, and carriage motion to arrange these on the paper. While printer response to any particular byte is governed by firmware, this response can be modified. Sometimes this can be done by switches but many features are not controllable except by software. In other words, the computer must command the printer remotely. Like any other kind of remote control, communication is required. A small part of this consists of actual electronic signals. Most, however, is exercised by the computer talking to the printer in a language it understands: patterns or sequences of data bytes. This is where the user enters the picture via a word processor or other program. Getting what you want out of your system requires you to give both the printer and the word processor the proper commands. The word processor contains a block of data holding the information it needs to control your particular printer. This is changeable, normally by load from disk. There are numerous names used to describe these: "Printer Driver", "Printer Description", and "Configuration" files being some of the more common. No matter what they're called, they are functionally bilingual dictionaries which the word processor uses to translate something like "underline from here to there" into language the printer understands. If your system is not producing up to its capabilities, the source of the problem may very well be this file. Most word processors come with a utility program to allow you to change or customize the printer driver. The catch is you've got to read and understand the documentation, both for the word processor and the printer, and you have to know what is and is not possible. Understanding of a few terms and measurements aids in this task. BUFFER ------ "Buffer" is commonly used but not always understood. A buffer is just a reserved area of memory for temporary storage of bytes. When dealing with printers, there are at least two buffers involved, one in the computer and one in the printer. Eight-bitters have a buffer in the interface as well which serves the same purposes as printer buffers. Buffers allow transmission of multiple byte blocks of data. This decreases time lost on "Handshaking" signals and calculation of checksums. Also, since the printer can't print anywhere near as fast as the computer can send, it accepts and stores as many bytes as it can so that the computer is free to move on to other business sooner. Obviously the bigger the printer buffer, the sooner the transmission is completed. The second purpose of the printer (and interface) buffer is to allow it to examine and modify the data before it is printed. It has to sort out printable data from commands, make any required conversions such as ATASCII to ASCII or addition of auto line feeds, and possibly, calculate right justification, etc. Once this is done, it determines how, and at what point in the printout, to apply the commands. Most printers actually have two buffers - everything that comes in goes to the "Receive Buffer". Printable stuff is then moved and held in the "Print Buffer". The importance of this distinction is that some commands affect only the print buffer - you have to read and decipher the book. LEE ROBERTS =========== by Marian Carter Profile of a High-Tech Cop (Excerpted Article) This feature is a reprint from the OCTOBER/NOVEMBER ST-JOURNAL MAGAZINE, presented here by permission. THIS ARTICLE MAY NOT BE REPRINTED IN ANY OTHER PUBLICATION OR NEWSLETTER WITHOUT EXPRESS PERMISSION FROM ST- JOURNAL, 113 West College Street, Covina, CA 91723, 818-332-0372. Lee Roberts is a modem day crime-buster - a gum shoe with high-tech habits and old fashioned principles. In appearance, he could be a manufacturers' representative, or a bank supervisor, or a manager of a credit agency--or any one of a number of other things--but he's not. He's a cop, and he specializes in a number of things--one of which is computer crime. The amiability and the eager-to-please niceness of the man could fool you. Then, as you're shaking hands with the guy you look into those eyes and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you're looking into the eyes of a cop. And suddenly you're very, very glad that you're an honest and fairly upright citizen. You're glad that the two of you are on the same side of the fence-and that you're not going over it with this man behind you. Lee Roberts, head of Roberts' Protection Agency, in Santa Ana, California, wasn't always a cop. He did a number of things before he got to be a detective with a badge and a gun, and then the head of his own agency--some of them not so pleasant--things like making cat food and helping assemble cars--nasty, boring drudge work. As Lee tells it, "here was this guy telling me that the greatest experience he'd ever had in his whole life was getting to work on John Wayne's station wagon--that's when I knew that I had to have something more out of life." And that's when Lee Roberts, a dirt-poor North Carolina boy, as he calls himself, decided to become a cop. He finished his high school education, got his diploma, and petitioned the Newport Beach Police Department in California for admission. They sent him to the Los Angeles Police Department Academy. Lee not only graduated from the Academy, but on the way to becoming a detective, also picked up the expertise that was to make him a specialist in a number of fields. One of these specialties was the fine art of surveillance. By the time he'd put in a few years with the Newport Beach ED., he could drive down the street, eyeball the citizens, and pick out all the characters that were 99% up-to-no-good. Instinct, knowing what to look for, and a sharp eye, along with the rest of skills that he had learned, had made him a highly competent and effective cop. Strangely enough, it was these skills, plus the education he'd picked up on the side, that were to help make Roberts, among other things, one of the country's few experts on computer chip crime. But had it not been for a ferociously nasty encounter with an oversized felon bent on destruction in 1980 that left him with a back injury and a 50% diability, Lee probably wouldn't have known much or cared less about the differences between a computer chip and a potato chip. As it turned out, he didn't have very long to wonder about where he was going. The door that had closed on his job as a police detective had also opened into another aspect of criminal investigation. People were still coming to Roberts for help, and in 1982, he opened his own agency, Roberts Protection and Investigations. Then, suddenly, what had been a trickle of theft and violence in the chip manufacturing field began to grow into a full fledged torrent of criminal activity. All at once, police departments like the Newport Beach P.D. and Irvine P.D. were beginning to find that they hadn't the manpower or time to devote to the kind of chip-theft activity that was taking place. Employees were stashing chips in their pockets and walking out with them; burglars were hauling chips out by the barrelsful in the dead of night. In the meantime, someone, somewhere else, was holding up a 7-11 down the street or mugging a little old lady in the mall. It was too much. A department with only 10 or so men on the street has to establish priorities. It was about that time that the police departments began a process in which they would take a company's report, and then, because they were well acquainted with Roberts' work, refer the victim to Lee. Almost before he knew it, the retired detective and his agency had begun specializing in another area of criminality -- chip theft, and chip- related burglaries and armed robberies. "These chips, they're like gold," Lee is saying, "These guys are wearing masks and driving up in vans. They're tying up guards and using bolt cutters to cut their way into a place... they're loading chips into Boxes ... plastic trash cans... hauling them away." He goes on to relate another tale about robbers stealing a load of chips big enough to fill a truck and then conning an unwitting bystander into loading the truck for them. "Or you take employees ... a hundred of them can steal just 5 chips a day. At, say, $20 per chip, that's 500 chips at $10,000 per day. Maybe they don't realize it, but they could put a company out of business that way." Lee goes on to talk about what temptation can do to a person and the weaknesses of the flesh and moral fibre. Maybe he understands. To a person making $4 or $5 an hour, maybe the prospect of walking out with $100 worth of chips in his pocket is more than flesh can resist. But you glance at those serious blue eyes with the hint of steel behind them and a look that says, "I know you," and you also have the feeling that to Roberts, both the chip thief and the buyer of those chips are just another facet of crime's many faces; a criminal is a criminal, and Lee's going to catch him if he can. "People are basically dishonest," he says. And then he adds, "In 20 years I've never seen anybody turn down stolen goods...... Does Roberts have any answers when it comes to stopping computer crime? Maybe. At least he has a couple of suggestions which might help if they were followed -- one of which would be to get rid of the profit motive. Whether it's hot stereos or hot chips, go after the guy who's buying the stolen goods. And he's had plenty of experience doing just that. He'll tell you that, as a cop, he's lain in wait and watched while auto choppers hacked up a brand new Porsche just so that he could follow them and see where they peddled the parts. Once, he and a fellow officer took a new $800 TV purchased from J.C. Penney's, still in its box, stuck it under the noses of 5 different pawn shop owners, and gave them each the story that they'd boosted the set and needed the money for drugs. They'd let it go for $100. (Not one of the owners was willing to turn the "bargain" down.) All of this, of course, was to find out who was buying. That's where the head of the serpent lies ... on the buyer. Cut off a head and you've removed a source. Lee would do the same thing with chips. If he had his way, he'd make it tough on the person who buys DRAMs and PVGAs in other than standard and customarily acceptable ways. In other words, if you've just bought yourself a shoebox full of chips, at a price that's half the market value, from some guy peddling door-to-door, and you've handed him cash with no receipt offered or requested, then you should be adjudged guilty of knowingly receiving stolen property--because deep in your heart you knew those chips were hot. Therefore, if not prosecutable as a criminal offense, you should still be held liable for civil damages. And Lee would track you down in a manner fairly similar to the way he'd track down a receiver of stolen Porsche parts, or an arsonist trying to build an insurance claim on a house he's torched. Lee's other answer? Beef up security. He'd have chip companies install turnstiles where employees would have to go through the stiles past guards, x-ray machines, and cameras in order to exit their employer's premises. He'd have guards in bullet-proof booths, and "lock down" areas installed in those parts of a plant where chips are being produced. Basically, he'd have employers start reacting to hightech crime by erecting a high-tech manner of defense. And he'd also have them become, legally, very aggressive against both thieves and buyers of stolen goods. And what does he see as the future of chip-thefts and related crime? Growing and continuing to be tremendously profitable for the criminal element. At this point he can only reiterate the statement that the whole process of manufacturing, marketing, and brokering chips has created an immensely powerful opportunity for the amassing of illegally gotten wealth - and that situation is going to get worse before it gets any better. "I've got the best job security in the world," he says with a grin. You look around the place with its state-of-the-art equipment - plaques, awards, and memorabilia on the walls and desks; you leaf through an inscribed copy of Wambaugh's latest novel, The Golden Orange, with a personal inscription to Roberts on the flyleaf. You consider the fact that Roberts has over 70 employees working for him and garners revenues of over a million per year. You reflect on the additional information that he has the technical and the legal capacity to pull off just about any kind of a sting operation he chooses (he has the police privilege of being able, as an undercover officer, to buy or sell anything from drugs to chips, and he's not above employing a helicopter to follow a malefactor). You consider all of this, and you have to agree with this retired detective. Until and unless the citizenry suddenly develops a severe case of morality, then, yes, Roberts is right, he's got the best job security in the world. Not too shabby for a dirt-poor kid from North Carolina. ________________________________________________________________________ Z*NET Atari Online Magazine is a weekly publication covering the Atari and related computer community. Material contained in this edition may be reprinted without permission except where noted, unedited and containing the issue number, name and author included at the top of each article reprinted. Opinions presented are those of the individual author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff of Z*Net Online. This publication is not affiliated with Atari Corporation. Z*Net, Z*Net Atari Online and Z*Net News Service are copyright (c)1990, Rovac Industries Incorporated, Post Office Box 59, Middlesex, New Jersey 08846-0059. Voice (908) 968-2024, BBS (908) 968- 8148 at 1200/2400 Baud 24 hours a day. We can be reached on Compuserve at PPN 71777,2140 and on GEnie at address: Z-Net ________________________________________________________________________ Z*NET Atari Online Magazine Copyright (c)1990, Rovac Industries, Inc.. ________________________________________________________________________
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