Z*Net: 27-Jul-90 #530

From: Len Stys (aa399@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 08/25/90-10:22:57 AM Z

From: aa399@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Len Stys)
Subject: Z*Net: 27-Jul-90  #530
Date: Sat Aug 25 10:22:57 1990

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                Atari Online Magazine          Issue #530
                   (=) 1990 by Rovac Industries, Inc.
                            Post Office Box 59
                       Middlesex, New Jersey 08846
             Z*Net Online 24 Hour BBS (908) 968-8148  3/12/24
 CompuServe 71777,2140                                       GEnie Z-NET
                              JULY 27, 1990

                                THIS WEEK
                              by Ron Kovacs

 Welcome to another issue...  Beginning this week through August, Alice
 Amore and Mark Quinn will be on vacation.  I will substitute for both
 during the weeks ahead.  If anyone is interested in pinch-hitting for
 the summer, please leave email on any of the pay services or the Z*Net
 BBS.  BTW, Alice and Mark cover public domain and shareware releases!
 The 908 area code is now working in the designated areas of New Jersey.
 You will start seeing BBS number changes circulating shortly.  This
 will also effect the Z*Net numbers.  The 908 area code will make a
 permanent change next year.
 Bruce Hansford has submitted an exclusive report on problems with 
 Calamus and commentary contained in a recent ST-Informer issue.
 Online Magazines can't carry the soundtrack of Roseann Barr's singing
 of the National Anthem.....
                              Z*NET NEWSWIRE

 George Miller announced on GEnie in a message that he is resigning
 from Michtron to persue other career goals.  Those goals were at one 
 time being considered for an Atari post but Abacus has probably made the 
 better offer since that is where George is going.
                               Z*NET ERRATA
 Last week we congratulated Leonard Tramiel and his wife on the birth of
 their baby boy, MICHEAL OLIVER TRAMIEL, born July 14.  This week we're
 proud to congratulate Leonard and family on the birth of their baby boy,
 MICHEAL ELLIOT TRAMIEL, born July 14, and sheepishly admit to having no
 idea who Micheal Oliver Tramiel might be.

                       NEW GENERATION CD-ROM DRIVES
 Sony has announced a new generation of CD-ROM drives, a write-once CD-
 ROM system, and two PC cards for developing and implementing CD-ROM XA
 applications.  The four new CD-ROM drives are:
     *  CDU-541 internal drive with an embedded SCSI-II (rev. 10)
        controller and 64 KB ring buffer
     *  CDU-531 internal drive with a Sony bus controller and 8 KB
        ring buffer
     *  CDU-6211 external drive with embedded SCSI-11 (rev. 10)
        controller and 64 KB ring buffer
     *  CDU-6201 external drive with Sony bus controller and 8 KB
        ring buffer
 All four drives have a high speed average access time of 0.38 seconds,
 a 25 percent improvement over the previous drives.  The ability to play
 audio CDs is a standard feature of the new CD-ROM drives.  Further, all
 of the drives can be mounted either horizontally or vertically, and have
 a 5-1/4" profile.  All new models will be available in the Fall, 1990.
 Consumer models based on the same technology will be announced by the
 end of 1990. 

                              TANDY'S NEW PC
 Tandy introduced the Tandy 1000 RL personal computer with unique home
 management programs practical and simple.  The Tandy 1000 RL is sold at
 Tandy's more than 7,000 Radio Shack stores with a ready-to-use price
 range from $750 to $1,299. 

 Adaptec became the first company this week to bring to market Small
 Computer Systems Interface (SCSI) software compatible with Microsoft
 Corp.'s layered device driver architecture (LADDR) for the OS/2
 operating system. 

                          AMIGA APPEARS IN STORES
 Commodore Amiga is now appearing in a number of major stores, including
 Macy's California, Montgomery Ward's, VideoConcepts and others.
 Commodore says it is planning a presence in more than 1,200 consumer
 retail outlets by Aug. 31.  Other outlets are to be added by Nov. 15.


                           Z*NET SPECIAL REPORT
                        Reported by Bruce Hansford
 The following letter was FAXed today by Network News Services in
 England.  It is a copy of a letter sent to ST Informer Magazine in
 response to the July "Rumor City", a column in that publication written
 by Nevin Shalit.  Nevin's column stated that "some VERY NASTY STUFF is
 going on over in England.  A British distributor is importing US ROMS
 and selling the ROMs and Calamus together at a price lower than the
 official British importer can offer.  To make matters worse, Calamus
 representatives say that this distributor, Network News Services, is
 bashing Calamus to anyone who calls for information.  Lawsuits may be

 The following is a direct quote, un-altered, from the FAXed letter and
 is reprinted with full permission of Network News Services and Frank

 Network News Services
 Dock Road, Tilbury
 Essex RM18 7BT U.K.
 Tel: 0375:859103

                            Web-offset and sheet-fed printers; publishers
                                 (newspapers, mags., books).
                            Photo-typesetting; laser-setting; graphics
                                  design; film/plate-making.  
                            Dealers in:  DTP Systems: Atari Products:
                                  Sharp Lasers:  Epson.  
                            Creators of the PROXIMA DTP/In-house litho
                                  printing facility.


 How about some fair play, guys?  One of our US contacts has just read me
 your 'rumour' column, July issue, on the subject of us and Calamus.  You
 might think we're the bad guys:  in the UK, Australia and the Middle
 East, we're the good guys.  Since I was speaking to your editor fairly
 recently, he could have raised the issue with me.  How would your ST
 buffs like to pay 700 dollars (yes, seven HUNDRED dollars) for the
 Calamus program which costs about 160 in the US?  That's the same
 program.  Outline here costs nearly 300 dollars and the font disks you
 pay about 90 dollars for, cost 250 dollars in the UK.  Would YOUR
 readers pay out like that, without putting up a squeak?

 Everywhere else in the world (except Australia) Calamus operates through
 a normal dealer network, with normal competition between dealers.  In
 the UK there is NO such network:  the distributorship is just one man,
 who refuses (against European and UK law, incidentally) to allow anyone
 to stock the product if they don't agree to maintain his high price.  I
 understand price-fixing is against US law, too.  Why not run some
 'rumours' about that?

 We started importing from the US in all innocence, not realising what a
 furor the Calamus distributor would try to generate when he saw his
 monopoly being threatened.  Monopolies are against the law in Europe and
 the UK.  Legal action may be pending.... but NOT against us.  WE raised
 the matter with our Dept. of Trade and Industry and THEY insisted on the
 matter being forwarded to the European Commission (Europe's trade court,
 with very far-reaching powers).  A DTI spokesman told us (for quoting,
 knowing that our main business is publishing and printing newspapers,
 magazines and books), that the way Calamus was being handled here was
 making 'second-class citizens' of UK Atari users.  The law is on our
 side, believe me.  If you don't believe me... I'll be happy to mail you
 all the relevant articles of the Treaty of Rome, which governs European

 The TOS chips we change are because the Calamus writers put ROM
 identifiers in the program to protect individual distributor's markets
 in their own countries.  This is UNLAWFUL in the EEC if it is intended
 to stop fair and competitive trading of a product.  There is, of course,
 no other reason for including a 'country identifier' in the program
 which stops that program running anywhere else.  Again, in the US, where
 the product is traded competitively, it doesn't matter.  Here it matters
 a great deal.

 So we bad mouth Calamus, do we?  According to your rumour-monger, we go
 to all the trouble of importing Calamus and the TOS chips...  and then
 we bad-mouth the product so no one buys it, do we???  Perhaps we're not
 really nasty guys... perhaps we're just nut-cases.  At least, we would
 be if we followed the dichotomous reasoning of your rumour-writer.  (By
 the way, I take it that IS the guy who I went to the trouble of
 advising... through your editor... how to fix a possible fault in his
 Atari laser?).

 We have published newspapers for over forty years... award-winning
 newspapers.  When it comes to marketing a product, we feel the truth
 ought to be told about it... then the customer can make up his own mind.
 The most-respected Atari writer in Europe has just re-reviewed Calamus
 and has slammed it (ST Club Magazine).  All we do is tell people the
 truth.  I know that such a concept comes alien to most of the computer
 industry... but that's the way we are.  As to what we're doing and the
 general concept of what we're doing to try to promote FAIR trade... may
 I refer you to recent decisions of your own Supreme Court, as reported
 in the New York Times.  Seems we're not alone.

 What I want to know... and maybe some of your Atari user-readers might
 like to know... is why a mag like ST Informer isn't living up to its
 name... and INFORMING!  They might also wonder, as do I, at a writer who
 thinks it perfectly okay for OK Atari owners to pay FOUR TIMES AS MUCH
 for the same product as is paid by people in the US, Canada... and even
 Germany, where the program originates.  What's he got against the
 British?  Tell him I'm Irish and maybe he'll want to get his facts -- or
 'rumours' -- straight next time.

 We, of course, have our contacts.  We know exactly who is generating the
 kerfuffle about what we're doing and I am surprised that the igloo-bound
 gentleman concerned is still carrying on in this way AFTER faxing me an
 apology for interfering in my business!

 Frank Shean
 Managing Editor, Network

 P.S.  Do you STILL want me to be your European correspondent!!!

 The above letter does not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of
 Z*Net Online Magazine or its staff.

                               by John Nagy

 This feature is a reprint from the SUMMER ISSUE of ST-JOURNAL MAGAZINE,
 presented here by permission.  THIS ARTICLE MAY NOT BE REPRINTED IN ANY
 JOURNAL, 113 West College Street, Covina, CA 91723, 818-332-0372.
 Individual copies of ST JOURNAL are available from the above address for
 the cover price of $4.50, and subscriptions are $29.95 a year.

 Atari users have nothing if not our reputations.  We are told that Atari
 users are Pirates.  We are told that Atari owners are unnaturally
 militant, unreasonably demanding, irrationally loyal, and
 uncompromisingly cheap.  And we are told that we are far more interested
 in and informed of the daily affairs and administration of our
 computer's Corporation than are users of other brands.  Is this all
 true?  And why?


 No.  We are not all pirates.  While booths offering copies of hundreds
 of major software titles are common at hamfests and some computer shows,
 the selection is almost exclusively IBM and Apple.  This is to be
 expected from the commercial pirates, as they, too, know where their
 biggest market is.

 I think that piracy has become socially unacceptable in most Atari user
 groups.  It was not always the case, and I am sure that club meetings
 still exist where the main point of getting together is to get copies of
 everybody else's newest "warez".  But this scene is played out in MAC
 and IBM groups with much greater frequency than in our Atari clubs
 today.  Most responsible and involved enthusiasts can see the damage
 this does, and most of us have had the opportunity (at shows) to meet
 and get to know the developers who's livelihoods are being gouged.  The
 immediacy of shaking hands with the developer while picking his/her
 pocket is generally more than most of our consciences can take.  Not
 always, of course.  The April PACE show in Pittsburgh, PA set a new high
 water mark in open discussion of piracy participation and flagrant
 statements of intent to "wait and get the new software when it's on the
 BBS's."  Fortunately, the PACE experience is particularly shocking by
 virtue of being unprecedented at Atari shows.  Unless we see more like
 it, I take it as an aberration rather than a trend.

 I believe that Atari users on the whole have taken more accusations of
 piracy than we deserve.  But like a murder in a small town, it has more
 impact because of the small community.  And the guilty are getting more
 peer pressure than ever before.

 (As an aside, you know your computer is sinking when the pirates jump
 ship.  But they leave early, having little allegiance to anything but
 personal greed.)


}es.  Atari people are, by and large, very cheap with their hardware and
 software purchasing.  Most users can't quite swallow the idea of paying
 as much for a software title as they paid for their computer.  But
 everything is relative.  I suppose that most MAC users would balk at
 buying titles that cost what their machine did new... but of course we
 are talking about thousands, not hundreds of dollars there.  The low
 price and high value of the ST platform pre-selects a userbase that
 expects a lot for their money.  Atari users use Ataris because of the
 amazing value they present.  Part of that value is cheap software to
 match the cheap hardware.  It goes with the territory, and because
 quality ST software has been available for pennies in the past, users
 see no reason that it should not continue.

 Many Atari ST users would have no computer at all if they didn't have
 their ST... and probably MOST would not have a similarly outfitted MAC
 or 386 setup.  It is no consolation to those users to tell them that
 they would be paying two to four times the price for comparable software
 if they were on a different platform.


 An instant war is on your hands anytime you ask an Atari owner and, oh,
 say, an AMIGA owner to compare the advantages of their machines.  But
 ask an MS-DOS and a MAC owner to comment, and you get very little fire.
 Why?  What is it that makes Atari (and Amiga) owners so passionate?

 It is the combination of the psychology of the underdog mixed with
 justifiable resentment.  We DO know that the Atari is the Rodney
 Dangerfield of computers.  We REALLY, REALLY KNOW it.  We know what our
 machines are capable of, and we are completely used to being laughed at
 or at least looked at funny when we mention our computer brand in mixed
 company.  Many of us know why we made our choice in computers, and we
 don't like our judgement being questioned or made light of.  Others of
 us may not be at all certain that we have the best computer, but we feel
 compelled after the fact to defend a choice we have made.

 We have gone against the odds to select a non-standard product for
 ourselves.  We have invested something of ourselves in the process.  We
 often feel an unusually strong need to defend our position, even if we
 are not being questioned about it particularly keenly.  And we are more
 likely to take more actions either for the same reasons we originally
 had to convince ourselves of, or in order to support our earlier
 actions.  We call that "loyalty".  The more off-standard the choice we
 make, the more loyal we are likely to be to it.


 Yes, Atari users are unusually interested in the daily activities of the
 company and personalities that create our computers.  The Atari message
 area on GEnie Telecommunication Service is the busiest of any special
 interest group on the entire service.  The demand for information has
 supported not just one but two weekly online magazines, while MAC and PC
 areas have bi-weekly or monthly newsletters.  We stay up on the latest
 changes in the Vice President's office.  We want to know what the
 Tramiels are saying and doing.  We want to know where Bob Brodie is this
 weekend.  And the gossip about which developer is planning to do what to
 whom over whatever is just that much more interesting.  Why?
 A major camera manufacturer studied advertising and consumer behavior a
 few years back.  They found that two major groups read their ads very
 carefully.  The smaller of the two included people who were about to buy
 a camera and were comparing features.  The much larger group was those
 who had already bought their brand camera and were looking for
 information to support the correctness of their selection.

 We are starved for support for our decisions to own and use Atari
 computers.  We are glad to consume any and all sources of information
 that may help us either feel that we made a wise choice, or else feel
 like we may be helping the choice become more viable for others.  There
 is sure to be a bit of fear motivating the information search, too.
 None of us feel totally secure that Atari will be there forever.  We
 worry that more developers will desert.  We wonder where we will go to
 shop for the software that will remain.  An oppressed group remains
 informed in order to defend its own existence.


 Yes.  Atari owners can be downright confrontational with Atari and
 developers.  Several magazines and online services have built their
 reputations on being an angry voice, crying out to Atari on behalf of
 what they perceive to be teeming throngs of outraged users.  Some of
 these people and publications go to great lengths to tell Atari how they
 are killing the dealer network, strangling the US market, mismanaging
 the corporation, and producing the wrong product mix.  Most of the
 commenting writers, myself among them, are from time to time in this
 category.  And often, there is reason for the outcry.  But Atari Corp
 sometimes seems to be mystified at our attitude, as though they cannot
 fathom why we take their actions as such important issues.  They built a
 box; we bought one.  Why do we want more?

 Here's why:  We bought our Ataris because they represent an exciting
 piece of the future - one that we can afford.  These are more than
 appliances to most of us... well, to many of us anyway.  We feel that we
 have fought the crowd to find a better, more versatile answer to both
 our needs and desires for entertainment and productivity.  We have
 invested of ourselves in the future of Atari.  And we CARE about what
 happens next.  That's what has been the root of the attitudes in our
 users that has earned much of our reputation.

 Atari, be glad that we care.  Start worrying when we stop being a pain.
 If it happens in the short-to-medium run, it won't mean that you are
 satisfying us, it will mean that we have given up.

                       CLEVELAND FREENET - FEEDBACK
                          by Francisco X DeJesus
 About two months ago I read about the Cleveland Free-Net right here in
 Z*Net.  You've probably heard something about it by now, including the
 fact it's absolutely free.  However, if you live nowhere near Cleveland,
 you may be thinking how you can get to it without a not-so-free long
 distance phone call.  All you really need is access to a computer system
 in the Internet network...
 If your'e at college, the best way to connect to it is to use your ST as
 a terminal to a local computer system, for example, using Uniterm to
 call your campus computer system.  Most colleges and universities
 nationwide have Internet access.  If you have an account in that
 computer, log in as you usually would.  From your system, it is a one-
 step process to get to the Free-Net.  Type in:
  "telnet freenet-in-a.cwru.edu" (no quotation marks).  If it doesn't
 recognize the hostname, try using the IP number directly:
  "telnet".  Most mainframe operating systems (VMS, Unix,
 CMS, Music, etc.) support the Telnet command.

 If you do not have an account on the local computer system, ask around
 to see if you may request a temporary account or if there is a 'guest'
 account available.  Also ask about the kind of computer that answers the
 phone calls.  If it is what is known as a 'terminal server', you have to
 connect from there to the actual computer that you want to use (for
 example, you type in something like 'connect LOCALCOMP' and then your'e
 asked for your username and password to log in).  If this is the case,
 some terminal servers will allow you to use the Internet directly:  type
 in "connect".  A last resort is to visit some of the local
 microcomputer labs in your school.  Find out if they are plugged into
 your campus network (usually thru ethernet).  If they are, you may
 obtain PD Telnet software for both Macs and PCs.

 Once you reach the Free-Net (it takes just a few seconds to connect from
 anywhere in the country) you will be greeted by the title screen and an
 ASCII pic of the 'electronic city'.  You may log in as a guest user and
 begin to explore the system or apply for an account (they will send you
 the actual application by mail).  As a guest user you can go anywhere
 and read anything in the system, but you can't leave messages, e-mail,
 or chat with the other users online.

 The whole Free-Net is set up like a menu-driven BBS with a city motif,
 and well deserved since it is HUGE!  The system is extremely easy to
 use, and online help is available.  Do check out all the SIGs,
 especially the Atari SIG (type "go atari" at any arrow prompt).  The
 Atari SIG is among the largest, and (as usual) Atari users are among the
 most outspoken in some of the other areas.  Not all SIGs are computer-
 oriented, and there is more than one SIG for every interest (for a
 complete listing of the SIGs check out the Index under the Post Office's
 User Services).
 In all, if you have the chance, I highly recommend you try out the
 Cleveland Free-Net.  As a first impression, the Free-Net works like any
 small BBS, but on such a large scale that the sheer magnitude of it
 still awes me (how many BBS's do you know with 96MB RAM and over 2 gig
 HD space? - and it's growing!).  It takes very little time to feel at
 home there, and it's free, so go online today!


                               Z*NET ECHOS
                            by Terry Schreiber
 North America is hit by another hot summer and as per usual computer
 sales are drastically reduced.  Atari Canada has been using this slow
 time to get things ready for the fall and winter computer buying season.
 Trying to pry info from Atari about their plans this season is a little
 like changing tires without a lug wrench but I did manage to come up
 with a few more things that weren't being held hush-hush till after the
 August 8th dealer meeting.
 A few years back I complained about lack of dealer support and gave some
 definite ideas on how to overcome them.  I am glad to hear at least one
 of them is now becoming a reality.  Atari Canada is setting up a BBS
 system for it's dealers to keep in touch with the stray technical
 bulletins that seem to go astray.  The system is being set-up in the
 head office on an Atari PC, and will keep all departments advised of any
 messages or mail recieved.  "It is a multi-purpose system" explains Rob
 McGowan the director in charge of technical support at Atari Canada, but
 the main reason is to keep dealers updated with what is happening, other
 uses such as:

     - dealer orders and messages
     - technical and service bulletins
     - pricing changes
     - advertising schedules
     - software and or hardware updates bulletins
     - promotional material
     - new products
     - major bugs and/or fixes
     - Atari shows dates
     - messages to Atari reps

 Dealers will be able to call a local number and go through data
 switching to reach the head office resulting in no long distance
 charges.  The system is being set-up for dealers at this point and
 possibly developers later, Public access, no plans in the immediate
 future.  Support for the general public should come from the dealers and
 with this instrument in place our dealers are only a call away from the
 information, it's faster than mailing technical bulletins and if it's
 there in black and white there aren't any excuses for not knowing the
 We wish Rob good luck in his new position and hope that this endevour
 does indeed accomplish what it should - make dealers more aware of what
 is happening with Atari.
 Hot weather combined with a cold front caused severe thunderstorms over
 most of central Canada and northern United States and as usual,
 lightning knocked out power over large areas.  BBS system in these areas
 were down for hours and even days with some losing valuable equipment to
 Mother Nature's light show.  It was reported that at least two BBS
 systems lost computers and or hard drives in this last storm, so I
 thought a timely note would be worthwhile to others before the same
 peril strikes.
 The best and formost method of guarding against power surges during a
 storm is to un-plug EVERYTHING!!  A power surge is not limited to the
 powerlines.  It can travel via the phone line to your modem into your
 serial port, from there to the parallel port, DMA port, monitor and
 anywhere depending on the amount of power coming in.  Electricity needs
 a path and looks for the shortest route to complete it's circuit.
 Sometimes we are unable to be present to "pull the plug" as it where,
 and require something online at all times.  There is a much better route
 to follow as power surges are in the lines at all times not just during
 a storm.  Protection is like preventive maintenance on your system, you
 have your car checked not because it is giving you problems but so you
 don't start receiving them.  I am not talking about your $10.00 power
 bar here, any surge protector that is worth the cash outlay will start
 at about $100.00 on up.  My choice is an ESP-386 with modem surge
 protection.  This model comes with $10,000.00 of insurance coverage
 against a surge damaging your equipment.  This model retails for almost
 $300.00 but they do have two small models carrying $5000.00 and $3000.00
 coverage respectfully.  Yes, I do sell these models and I would mention
 a few more if I was indeed familiar with the others, but I did buy this
 for my personal machine long before I started selling them.  A
 demonstration in their North Vancouver testing lab convinced me of the
 perils of power surges.
 A small note to the systems still down - Get well soon!
 With the crossnet being down for basically the last two weeks, there is
 nothing really to report except that I understand that Ron is planning
 on spending more time online shortly, and there has even been talk of
 switching the current BBS software to a crossnet compatible program.  We
 have added five more nodes to the crossnet in the last two weeks and
 are still growing.  The amount of activity is still sadly short of
 projected hopes but steadily increasing.
 Checking out the other crossnets we encounter an Amiga 3000 vs Atari TT
 discussion, a new desktop alternative, new Stos programs and new
 versions of GFA Basic discussions, latest U.F.O. sightings and cover-
 ups, assembly vs "C" vs Pascal talks, and many more that I haven't
 For FoReM or Turbo boards in the crossnet wishing to join the Z-Net
 Echos COnference, please contact Ray Skibo at Crash ST Node #448 Burnaby
 B.C., Canada.

                         NEW JERSEY - COMMENTARY
                            From the Z*Net BBS

 (Editor Note:  Being a resident of the state with many feelings about 
 the changes taking place, which were put into action by our new Governor 
 Jim Florio a democrat, the following has been circulating around BBS 
 systems and through fax machines.  The author of the following text is
  Jim Florio is my sheperd, I shall not want.
  He Leadeth me beside still Factories.
  He Restoreth my Doubt in New Jersey Polotics.
  He Guideth me to the path of Unemployment.
  He anointeth my Wages with Freeze.
  So my Expense Runneth over my Income.
  Surely Poverty and Hard Living Shall Follow This Administration.
  And I shall live in a Rented House Forever...!!

  5000 + years ago, Moses said, "pack your camel, pick up your shovel,
  mount your ass, and I will lead you to the Promised Land."

  5000 years later, F.D. Roosevelt said, " Lay down your shovel, sit on
  your ass, and light up a Camel, this is the Promised Land."

  Today, Jim Florio will Tax your Shovel, Sell your Camel, Kick your Ass,
  and tell you that the " Promised Land " is in Japan..!

                              EMULATOR BLUES
                              by Jack Burkig
          (Reprinted from the Puget Sound Atari News, June 1990)
 I got involved with Spectre 128 and PC Ditto for the noblest of motives.
 I wanted to crow to my friends who own Macs and PCs that I could do more
 with my lowly 1040ST than they could do with their expensive, top of the
 line stuff, and I could do it relatively cheap, and without completely
 filling our apartment with computer gear.  I knew that Spectre would not
 let me look at real Mac disks, and that PC Ditto was slow, but what the
 heck, both seemed to work pretty well within their advertised
 It is true that I never was able to make Spectre talk to my printer, and
 I had very little IBM type software, but at least I became familiar with
 the way the two user interfaces work, and I was reasonably happy and
 solvent.  Then Spectre GCR and PC Ditto II were announced, and I sent
 in my deposits to be among the early owners of these new wonders.  The
 price was reasonable, and I convinced myself that maybe I would even
 find it enjoyable to run some actual applications from the immense
 selection available for the two parent machines, given the promise that
 each emulation would be pretty much as good as the real thing.

 Spectre GCR was the first one delivered.  The package was a neat plug-in
 cartridge and I plugged it in and was immediately able to load genuine
 Mac disks into memory and run the application.  I had Mac-a-Mug and
 Hypercard and True Basic and all seemed to work.  I could format a disk
 in Mac format, copy files to it in Mac mode and then use the copy.
 Great!  I could not make the disk duplication work in Spectre mode,
 however, even after extensive tweaking of a potentiometer hidden under
 the cover of the cartridge.  No matter, it would be nice, but was not
 important.  But I did want to be able to send things to the printer.  I
 bought Printworks and tried it, but the only result was that the mouse
 cursor hung up and I spent days rebooting the machine, re-running
 Spectre and trying everything I could think of to get around that
 problem, without ultimate success.
 I wrote to the publisher of Printworks, only to discover that the USPO
 could not find them.  I wrote to Gadgets by Small, and in due course
 they answered, but I was still not able to get a printout.  I got a
 modem for my birthday and looked at the Atari vendor bb's on Compuserve
 and Genie in search of help.  There were lots of comments, but so far I
 have not found one that has led me to get movement one out of a print
 hammer, let alone letters, words, and the neat graphics which Hypercard
 puts on my screen.  At the moment I have a recommendation to try GDS
 Printlink Connection, but have not yet acted on that.  I still regard
 Spectre GCR as a very good product and am still reasonably hopeful that
 I will resolve these difficulties, but the progress to date is zilch.

 In late January or early February of 1990 the UPS man brought the long-
 awaited PC Ditto II.  The news of troubles with this product has been
 prominent in Atari related publications for months now, but let me tell
 you my horror story, since that is the one which is burned into my soul!
 After getting the box I immediately began to follow the instructions in
 the Installation Manual, step by step, but frustration soon intervened.
 I wrote to Avant-Garde pointing out the following deficiencies:

  1.  The clip which connects to the 68000 chip is a very insecure
      connection.  The least tug on the very stiff ribbon cables which
      attach to it will pull it off.
  2.  The installation manual spends two pages telling you how to take
      out screws and unbend shielding tabs, but does not mention that the
      power supply and disk drive must be removed before the shield can
      be removed.  In that process you must also unplug the connectors,
      and those have a plastic retaining tab to avoid accidental pull-
      outs, and are a bit of a trick to unlatch.

  3.  The installation manual tells you nothing about where the board,
      5 x 7.5 inches, fits.  I found that it would not fit at all, even
      with the shield removed.  This may be due to the fact that my
      memory upgrade extends half an inch above the shifter box, but even
      without that things would have been very, very close.

 After a considerable wait A-G sent a printed reply, apologizing for the
 omissions in the installation manual, suggested that soldering the clip
 in might be necessary or advisable, and casually mentioned that with
 certain mother board layouts it would be necessary to send the supplied
 clip back for a replacement, since that one would not permit the
 keyboard to be installed.  My board layout fit the description (but not
 the given Revision Number), so I sent it back and waited and waited and
 waited... for seven weeks.

 Finally, the replacement clip arrived, along with two replacement
 Programmed Logic Array chips which were being touted as the cure for
 troubles people had been encountering.  I took my machine to the local
 Atari store and asked them to install the thing, since I had by now
 gotten rather flinchy.  They wisely declined, pleading that they could
 not guarantee that it would work.  They did agree to solder the clip on
 for me, and after three tries got what seemed to be 64 good connections.
 After each try I took things home and tried to run the program.  On the
 first two solder jobs I got to the Insert DOS disk stage and things hung
 up.  On the third try the A> prompt appeared, I could display a
 directory, TYPE the contents of a file to the screen and run EDLIN to
 modify a note written and saved with COPY CON.  Because of a memory
 upgrade the board would still not fit "under the hood", so I cut a .25 x
 4 inch slot in the case of my ST, threaded the ribbon cables through,
 reassembled the 1040ST and plugged in the board, crossing those
 miserable ribbon cables as required.  To protect the board from the
 elements I installed it in a Radio Shack box, which sat on top of the
 computer.  I figured I was in operation.  I wanted to run Flight
 Simulator 4.0, but it got to a setup menu of some kind, the disk drive
 stayed on and things were hung up.  Probably FS 4.0 I figured, so I
 decided to just excercise DOS functions for a little while.
 Gradually, performance deteriorated until I was again at a stage where
 the thing hangs up before the prompt appears.  I opened the ST up,
 reseated the cables and tried "one last time".  DOS worked... but only
 as long as I did not touch the cables.  I asked Rod Coleman at Cimarron
 to take one last try at reflowing the solder on the clip, though I
 didn't know whether clip or cable was at fault.  He graciously did this,
 though he had every right to tell me to shove it my ear.
 Back at the ranch, DOS would turn on only if I applied finger pressure
 to the clip thru the larger cable.  I rang the cables out with my ohm 
 meter, tried "improving" the connection by squeezing with pliers, and
 now the disk drive spins for a few seconds and decides there's nothing
 there and things hang up.  It is very discouraging, and I have about
 decided to take my losses and dump the thing before I destroy my ST

 Avant-Garde has been responsive to customer complaints, but very
 tardily, and at least for me not very effectively.  The fact is that
 this is a product so badly engineered as to be almost unbelievable.  I
 have seen a demonstration of a working PC DITTO II, and I would very
 much like to be able to duplicate the results, but I have pretty much
 lost hope that the miracle will happen.

 To quote Pliny the Elder: Caveat emptor!  Or to quote the Guru of my
 graduate school physics days: Multiple purpose tools are no damn good!

 Z*Net 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.  Reprint
 permission is granted as long as Z*NET ONLINE, Issue Number and author
 is included at the top of the article.  Reprinted articles are not to be
 edited without permission.
 ZNET ONLINE                                           Atari News FIRST!
     "Don't Be Fooled By Inflated Self Serving Repetative Imitations"
                Copyright (c)1990 Rovac Industries, Inc..


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