Z*Magazine: 18-Dec-90 #188

From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 10/02/93-03:38:36 PM Z

From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: Z*Magazine: 18-Dec-90 #188
Date: Sat Oct  2 15:38:36 1993

           ==(((((((((( ==    Z*MAG/A\ZINE ATARI ONLINE MAGAZINE
           =========(( ===            December 18, 1990
           =======(( =====                Issue #188
           =====(( =======    ----------------------------------
           ==(((((((((( ==    Copyright (c)1990, Rovac Ind Inc..
                      Publisher/Editor : Ron Kovacs
                     Contributing Editor: Stan Lowell
   CompuServe: 71777,2140    GEnie: Z-NET     Z*NET BBS: (908) 968-8148
    by Ron Kovacs
 The staff extends best wishes for a Happy Holiday!  Merry Christmas!
 The next edition will appear in about 10 days or shortly before the end
 of the year with a special year in review edition.
 Z*Magazine will enter six years in 1991 and our continued publishing of
 this online magazine is up to you.  Please send interesting articles
 and information our way so that we can continue on a regular basis.
 Thanks for reading!

 Last week, Atari learned that the MEGA/STe had passed the FCC testing as
 a Type B (Consumer) product, and may begin US distribution as soon as
 production is ready.  That is expected to be in mid-January.  This marks
 the first time in memory that ANY Atari product has been approved for
 consumer release within 30 days of the first product announcement...
 (except perhaps for the $29 plastic monitor stand offered last year).

 Yes, the TT030 machine has in fact begun shipping to US dealers as a
 TYPE A COMMERCIAL USE device.  The price for the base unit, a 2 MEG RAM,
 50 MEG hard drive device, is still $2,995.  Only VARs (Value Added
 Resellers) and "qualified dealers" can get the TT, and must send Atari
 a letter assuring that the machines will not be sold to consumer,
 residential users.  The FCC is getting concerned with improper sales of
 Type A devices, such as the STacy and the TT, and is considering
 slapping a $5,000 per machine fine on those sold for improper use.

 Antonio Salerno, Vice President - Applications for Atari Corporation,
 resigned last Thursday, December 6.  Salerno had been in charge of
 efforts to persuade major software companies to bring their well known
 products to the Atari line, and had less than dramatic success.  Antonio
 reportedly will return to school to complete a Masters degree at
 Stanford University.  Atari has no immediate plans for a replacement, as
 Leonard Tramiel and Atari USA staff members are taking over most of the
 duties of the position.

 James Grunke, technical man for the super group BEACH BOYS, is leaving
 the band to replace Frank Foster at Atari as the Music Industry
 Representative and MIDI promoter.  James will begin work on January 1,
 1991.  Foster left in early September.

 Formerly of NEOCEPT, makers of the powerful WORD UP graphic word
 processor for the Atari, programmer Mike Fulton has been hired and has
 begun work in Atari's customer and developer support area.  This fuels
 earlier speculation that Atari may eventually buy and support Word Up as
 an Atari brand product.

 A promotion running in 20 premier locations of Cineplex Odeon motion
 picture theaters across the USA includes an Atari LYNX game kiosk and a
 sweepstakes for the show-goers.  Visitors to the theaters can play the
 hand-held games, mounted on the display stands.  Companion advertising
 for the LYNX appears in MOVIES USA, a magazine available in most movie
 houses.  The promotion runs throughout December, and Atari thanks a
 number of user groups who helped set up and are maintaining the displays
 in areas where local Atari representation needed a hand.  Kudos to: MAST
 (Minnesota Atari ST Users); HACKS (Hooked on Atari Computer Keyboards
 Society, Glendale CA); HASTE (Houston Atari ST Enthusiasts); SPACE
 (Seattle/Puget Atari Computer Enthusiasts); NOVATARI (Virginia); Mid-
 Florida Atari Computer Club.  For their efforts, the clubs will get to
 keep the LYNX machines and the display kiosk.

 As a sponsor of the famous FLEETWOOD MAC tour, Atari provided
 complimentary seats at the final evening of their 1990 tour for several
 club officials, dealers, and the press.  Friday, December 7, the music
 group that has been pressing hit albums since 1967 visited Los Angeles
 as the last stop on their tour in support of the latest LP, "Behind the
 Mask".  Fleetwood Mac uses Atari computers to control MIDI keyboards and
 effects.  Drummer and group leader Mick Fleetwood dazzled the sold-out
 Forum stadium with an extended solo on his MIDI drum-vest, which enables
 Mick to perform by touching, tapping, or slapping sensors in his
 clothing.  This is the same technology that Fleetwood and Jimmy Hotz use
 in the HOTZ BOX, which is finally becoming available commercially.  This
 performance is to be the final tour date that singers Stevie Nicks and
 Christine McVie participate in, although they may continue to be on
 Fleetwood Mac albums.  Z*NET thanks Atari for being included in this
 event, and thanks Fleetwood Mac for a great show.

 Dennis Hayes, the Cincinnati resident who pleaded guilty in late
 October to selling more then 5,000 copies of pirates MacIntosh ROMS was
 sentenced to 5 years in prison this week.  In the original half million
 dollar chip bust, Hayes sold copied MacIntosh ROM chips for between 130
 and 195 dollars per set.  Atari users were said to have purchased many
 of the ROMs for the Spectre Mac Emulator for the ST.  Dave Small of 
 Gadget's By Small stated in October that there were many legitimate 
 sources for Mac ROMs and that the marketplace should not be affected by
 this event.

 Repeated attempts this week to contact Atari Elite's legal 
 representation were unsuccessful and at the present time we still do
 not have a clear picture of the situation.  Rovac's Ron Kovacs received
 a writ of summons in late November stating that action had commenced on
 the matter, but to date no further information or summons has been
 received.  Z*Net Online continues to offer the Atari Elite response
 space to articles we ran earlier in the year.
 The Atari in-house publication Explorer is still around.  Production
 delays seem to be the problem and we have been told to expect release
 in January 1991.
 San Francisco California's Board of Supervisors tentatively adopted on
 the nation's first active VDT safety regulations.  The new regulations
 would require employers with 15 or more workers to provide a mandatory
 15 minute break.  Also, adjustable swivel chairs, document holders and
 computer terminals with detachable keyboards and adjustable, non-glare
 screens must be supplied.  Private and government offices would have two
 years to comply with the VDT safety rules if the ordinance is approved
 a second time by the supervisors and signed by San Fransisco Mayor Art
 Agnos.  Late NewsUpdate:  This regulation was passed this week and
 signed by the Mayor.

 European Community ministers have unanimously adopted new measures to
 fight software piracy.  The measures would grant software the same
 treatment as literary works, which are protected under the international
 Berne Convention on copyrights.  Copyright holders would have exclusive
 rights to authorize the reproduction, adaptation, translation or rental
 of their works.

 by Stan Lowell
 It has been much longer than I planned since my last article!  Why, you
 ask?  The exact reason seems to have slipped my mind...something to do
 with formatting a disk(THREE times!).  At any rate, here I am again!
 Many thanks to those of you who sent me information on GEnie, my BBS,
 and elsewhere.  Your input is a great resource for all Atari 8-bitters!
 Among the more interesting messages which I have encountered was the
 following capture from the ACUTE BBS(215-261-0620).  This message was in
 their networked NEAR-US message base.

 Message: 194 (#4903)
   Title: 8 Bit Software
  Author: Randy Constan
      To: All
  Posted: Fri 26-Oct-90 at  2:12:00am
 Origin: Nest BBS, Long Island, New York
 Hi! I just want to tell all 8 Bit users that Elfin Magic Software is
 still business, and still supports the 8 Bit!  While the changing market
 has made it impractical for me to continue advertising in major
 publications, I still receive dozens of calls anually from interested
 users.  There's still quite a stock of SUPER 3D PLOTTER II, CIRCUIT 
 DATABASE v.2.3, and CHECKING ACCOUNT MANAGER, on Hand.  It's a shame
 when good software is available, but totally unknown to so many users
 that could really put it to good use.  Our address is:

        Elfin Magic Co.
        23 Brook Place
        E. Islip, NY, 11730
       Phone:  516 - 581-7657

 Free information on all products is available for the asking, with a
 SASE.  Or, you can leave a message or personal EMAIL, or call any
 evening after 6:30PM (eastern time), if you need specific questions
 answered.  The revolution lives on!   -Randy

 After this message there was a discussion of Ads on a BBS.  I brought
 the idea to my Network SysOps.  They liked the idea.  As a result, we
 are encouraging 8-bit developers to post information about their 8-bit
 software on any of our FoReM-XEP boards, in the 8-bit Networked base.
 Our wish is to get the users & developers together.  The current list of
 FoReM-XEP Network boards follows:

 Blank Page BBS - S. Bound Brook, NJ  (My Board)            908-805-3967
 Gateway City - St.Louis, MO          (Support Board)       314-647-3290
 Cheers BBS - St.Louis, MO                                  314-351-2837
 Atarian Domain - Orlando, FL                               407-855-1317
 The Oasis - Kissimmee, FL                                  407-846-1765
 Final Frontier - Philadelphia, PA    (Support Board)       215-624-6347
 The Boss BBS - Houston, TX                                 713-479-1967
 Manitou BBS - Rochester, IN                                219-223-8107
 The Magic Dragon - Milwaukee, WI                           414-482-2635
 The Outhouse BBS - Belleville, IL
 The Road to Damascus BBS-Sacramento, CA                    916-929-4389

 In my last article, I asked for overseas sources for sofware, and I
 received feedback from Ray Wilmott on my BBS about an overseas source
 with which he has done business.  Their catalog is NOT a slick copy, but
 a computer printout.  Much of the newer sofware is on cassette.
 According to Ray, their prices are good, and the catalog is free for the
 asking.  Thanks for passing on the information, Ray...

 Was reading your intro piece in Zmag.  You mentioned European mail-order
 software.  Here's the address of the one I've used before in case you
 want to list it in a future Z-Mag.  Please let me know of any others you

 Miles Better Software
 219/221 Cannock Road
 Chadsmoor, WS11 2DD


 Several people left me the same names of Businesses carrying software
 and/or hardware for Atari 8-bits.  For simplicity, I have included some
 messages from my BBS' Networked bases.

 Msg# : 1243 - For Sale/Wanted
 Sent : 11/06/90 at 11:48 AM
 From : Tom Spencer
 C-net: Final Frontier-Philadelphia PA

 BOB,  you can get 3 I/O cables for $10 (or 1 for $4.50 get the three!)
 from American Techna-Vision 1-800-551-9995.
 I just got 3 and they're good.  They ship UPS "land" and it takes 7 to
 10 days to receive.  Also there is a $4 shipping and handling charge on
 all orders under all orders under $150.  They also have a decent 
 selection of software an reasonable prices and some hardware-parts, i.e.
 power packs, 1050 mechanisms, keyboards, upgrade kits etc. but no actual
 computers or drives.


 Msg# : 2156 - Msgs 8-Bit - Net
 Sent : 11/26/90 at 10:45 PM
 To   : Nick at Night
 C-net: The Oasis BBS - Kissimmee, FL.

 B & C Computer Visions, 3257 Kifer Rd., Santa Clara, California 95051,
 (408)749-1003 has the commercial version of Gauntlet 64K disk $31.50 &
 the Gauntlet Deeper Dungeons disk $22.50.  You need the Gaunlet disk in
 order to use the Deeper Dungeons disk.  They are open Tuesday - Friday
 10AM to 6 PM, Saturday 10AM to 5PM Pacific time.  Closed Sundays &
 Mondays.  Also available for the ST, Gauntlet $44.95 & Gaunlet II $44.95

 Msg# : 1831 - Msgs 8-Bit - Net
 Sent : 10/28/90 at  5:32 PM
 To   : Nick at Night
 C-net: Oasis BBS - Kissimmee, FL.

 The game he is referring to is NOT PD.  I bought it new last spring for
 $16.95.  Yes, that was the price, NOT a typo.  The place is called
 Software Plus 'n' Stuff, in Columbus, Ohio.  Their BBS number is (614)
 239-0349.  When I was there they had a lot of good stuff at good prices.
 Give the board a call, they even have online price lists.

 Another long time 8-bit Atari software source is:
  San Jose Computer
  640 Blossom Hill Rd.
  San Jose, CA 95123

 Another message gives us a hint of the next shareware terminal program
 to come from the prolific Bob Puff:

 Msg# : 2129 - Msgs 8-Bit - Net
 Sent : 11/20/90 at  4:38 AM
 To   : Richard Welter
 From : Terroc
 C-net: Magic Dragon BBS-Milwaukee, WI
 Subj : Bobterm 1.22

 BTW: Bob Puff is taking suggestions from people regarding what you'd
 like to see in BobTerm XE, the next release of BobTerm.  So if you have
 any suggestions you'd like to convey him here are the BBS' that he's
 involved with:

   Computer World Jr.
   Bob Puff's BBS
   (716) 247-8355

   Computer Software Services
   Support BBS
   (716) 247-7157

 If you call CSS' BBS address messages to Bob Puff as SysOp Bob.


 Well, that about does it for this time.  Once again, many thanks to
 those of you who have helped me with information.  If you should call
 the mentioned places, please mention that you saw it here in ZMag.  Let
 them know that somebody still cares and appreciates their continued

 If you should have some useful input, I can be reached on my BBS (908-
 805-3967), GEnie(S.LOWELL), and on Z*Net Online BBS(908-968-8148).

 SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL USERS GROUP!  Support those who support US!


 This article originally appeared in the June 1990 issue of PSAN.
 PSAN (Puget Sound Atari News) is the official newsletter of several
 participating non-profit Atari user groups.  Approximate circulation
 - 800.  Please send any inquiries to: PSAN, P.O. Box 110576, Tacoma, WA
 BlackBox vs. MIO
 by Dan Knauf of S*P*A*C*E
 Having had the opportunity to use both the BlackBox from CSS and the MIO
 from ICD, I thought I would share what I have learned about these two
 unique pieces of hardware for the 8-bit Atari.
 The systems I have used include: 130XE computers (upgraded to 512k),
 1-meg MIO, 256k MIO, BlackBox, Supra Modem 2400, Seikosha MP-1300AI
 printer, 2 Happy 1050 floppy drives, an Adaptec 4000a hard drive
 controller, 2 Adaptec 5500 hard drive controllers, a Seagate ST225 20
 meg hard drive, a ATASI 3046 40 meg hard drive, and a CMI 5616 13 meg
 hard drive.
 An explanation of just what the MIO and BlackBox are is in order.  Both
 include a SASI/SCSI hard disk interface, a printer port, an RS232 port,
 and some type of printer buffer.  The MIO comes with either 256k or 1
 megabyte of dynamic ram on board which can be used as any combination of
 ramdisk(s) and/or printer spooler.  The BlackBox comes either with no
 user ram or 64k of static ram which can be used only as a printer
 buffer.  The BlackBox can also use the standard extended banks of a
 130XE as a 64k printer buffer.  The RS232 and/or printer ports can be
 disabled in both units to allow an external device such as an Atari 850
 interface to be used.
 Both come with clear manuals printed on 8 1/2 by 11 inch unbound paper.
 The pinouts for all ports are clearly shown in the manuals and there are
 examples showing how to set up a hard disk system.  The BB manual
 includes several short assembler listings showing some methods of
 accessing the BB from machine language.
 The MIO comes in a nice gray case with the SCSI connector and printer
 port on one end.  The other end has the RS232 port, on/off switch, power
 plug, and two LED's - one is a power indicator the other lights up when
 the MIO is busy.  My 1-meg MIO has a second 9 pin plug on this end for
 a planned 80 column adapter which never happened.  The 50 conductor
 ribbon cable which plugs into the computer is on one side.
 The BB comes with no case.  Cases are available for it for $39.95 (and
 they are even black!).  On the front edge is the connector which plugs
 into the 130XE.  The other side has the SCSI connector, the floppy
 controller connector (see below), and the power plug.  The printer plugs
 onto one end and the modem on the other.  The BB also has two LED's
 which serve the same functions as the ones on the MIO.
 Plugging it in:
 The MIO has a 50 pin connector which plugs in to the parallel expansion
 port on a 600XL or 800XL.  An XE adapter must be purchased for $16.95 to
 plug the MIO into a 130XE computer.  This adapter plugs into both the
 ECI port and the cartridge port on the 130XE and has sockets for two
 cartridges on it.  The second cartridge plug is primarily for the
 Rtime-8 cartridge from ICD.
 The BlackBox is built to plug directly into the 130XE.  It comes with a
 short 50 pin cable for plugging into an XL machine.  No extra adapter is
 needed.  For my own system, I use the XE adapter from ICD and plug the
 50 pin cable on the BB into it.  (I use the Rtime-8 and this keeps the
 cartridge stack shorter.)
 The MIO has the expected 9 pin and 15 pin d-connectors for plugging in
 your printer and modem.  The BB comes with 34 pin card edges for use
 with 34 conductor ribbon cable.  You can use standard crimp-on
 connectors for both cables (use 25 conductor ribbon cable for the modem
 cable) or you can buy the cables you need from CSS.
 There is also an unused 34 connection card edge on the BB.  This is for
 the floppy controller that CSS is planning to release.  This floppy
 controller will allow the user to attach industry standard disk drives -
 up to 80 track 720k - to the BB.
 The MIO comes with a heavy duty 9v power supply.  The BlackBox comes
 with a power supply which has +12v, -12v and +5v output.  All three
 voltages are used by the BB.
 Both the MIO and the BlackBox have menus.  Here is a list of options
 available from the main menu of both:
 1) Assign drives as floppy disks, or hard drive partitions.  When
    assigning floppy drives, you can assign any physical floppy drive
    respond as any drive from D1: to D8: (and D9: on the BlackBox).
 Note: On the MIO ramdisks can also be defined.  These ramdisks refer to
 MIO memory only - not memory available inside the computer.  Use a DOS
 ramdisk handler for the extended memory in the computer.
 2) Swap Drives - shows up as 'Exchange Drives' on the BlackBox and
    allows you to swap the drive assignments of two drives.  For example,
    you could swap drives 1 and 4.  The drive assigned to D4: would then
    become logical drive #1 and you could boot from it while the drive
    that was drive 1 would then be addressable as D4:.  I am writing this
    using PaperClip which I booted from my hard drive using this method.
 3) Lock Drive - Write locks a drive if it is a hard drive partition or a
 4) Save Congfiguration - this writes the current configuration to the
    first sector of device 0,0 (the first Hard drive on your system).  If
    no hard drive is present this option does nothing.
 The other options available from these menus are different enough to
 need separate descriptions.
 The MIO Menu:
 The MIO menu is entered by holding down the SELECT button and pressing
 RESET.  This loads the menu into the computers program ram starting at
 address $3000.  This destroys whatever was there, so it is best to re-
 boot the computer after accessing the menu.  The main menu is the drive
 configuration menu.  This is where you set up your hard drive
 partitions, partition the MIO ram into ramdisks, and assign floppy
 drives.  The printer and RS232 menus are also accessed from here.
 Available from the printer menu:
 1 - Pause/Resume Printing.
 2 - Clear Spooler.
 3 - Print Repeat Copies.
 4 - Set Port Type.
 5 - Set Spooler Size.
 6 - Set Port Number.
 The 'Repeat Copies' option allows you to print copies of any text
 currently in the MIO print spooler.  Setting the port type allows
 printing to either parallel and serial printers.  This function is also
 used to turn line feeds on/off.  Spooler size is adjustable in 32k byte
 increments from 0 (OFF) up to the maximum ram available on the MIO.
 Maximum available ram includes all ram on the MIO not already assigned
 to ramdisks.  The port number can be set to P1:, P2:, or OFF.
 Available from the RS232 menu:
 1 - Set Baud Rate.
 2 - Set Stop Bits.
 3 - Set Parity.
 4 - Assign Port Number.
 Baud rate can be set from 110 to 19,200 baud.  Stop bits can be set to
 either 1 or 2.  Parity can be set to none, odd, even, or space.  Since
 most terminal software handles these items, I am not sure why they are
 on the menu.  Maybe it looked empty without some extra options... :-).
 R1:, R2:, or NONE are the allowable port assignments.

 The BlackBox Menu:
 The BlackBox menu is entered by pressing a button on the BlackBox.  This
 menu does not use any programming ram and is therefore non-destructive.
 You can enter the menu and usually exit with no effect on the program
 you are running.  Available from the BlackBox menu are:

 1 - Drive Configuration Menu.
 2 - Port Status Menu.
 3 - 6502 Monitor.
 From the Drive configuration menu you can partition your hard drive,
 assign floppies, add hard drive partitions to the partition list
 (explained below), enter the controller menu, or enter the partition
 list menu.
 The controller menu allows you to add up to 8 different hard drives to
 your system.
 The BlackBox allows you to have up to 96 hard drive partitions.
 The information on these partitions (size, start sector, controller and
 drive number, etc) is kept in the partition list.  You are allowed to
 name each partition with any name of up to 11 characters 10 of which
 show up in the menu.  The main configuration table of the BlackBox has
 room for nine drives (and/or partitions).  You can load any partition
 from the partition list into the main configuration table by going to
 the partition list, moving the cursor to the partition you want and
 pressing RETURN.  You will then be returned to the main configuration
 table and asked what drive you want the partition loaded as.
 Options on the port status menu are:
 1 - I/O Sound On/Off.
 2 - RS232 Port On/Off.
 3 - Printer Port Number.
 4 - Printer Line Feeds On/Off.
 5 - Spooler Status.
 6 - HD Partition List Start Sector.
 7 - Save Configuration.
 Yes, I/O sound with a hard drive, heh.  The RS232 port can only be
 turned on/off with no option to be assigned as anything other than R1:.
 The printer port can be assigned as any one of P1: through P8:, ALL, or
 NONE.  Spooler status cycles between off, XE extended banks, and
 BlackBox ram (if the ram is available on the BB).  This is also where
 you tell the BB where to look for the partition list which takes up to
 14 sectors and can be located anywhere on the first hard disk on the
 system.  You can save the configuration here as well as from the drive
 configuration menu.
 The 6502 monitor is the best I have seen for the 8-bit Atari.  It
 doesn't have as many features as others but it is transparent to the
 system and does a MUCH better job of interupting a program than either
 DDT or Omnimon.  I have retired my Omnimon and never used DDT much
 anyway.  With the BB monitor you can interupt a program, examine/change
 memory, and usually resume right where you left off.  Ever had a lockup
 you couldn't get out of by pressing RESET?  With the BB monitor you can
 change the program counter to point to E477 (the cold start vector) and
 when you exit the BB the computer will cold start.  This is nice for
 saving the files in your ramdisks.
 Note:  While snooping in the BB ROM I discovered that holding the HELP
 key and pressing RESET causes a cold start.  Holding SHIFT-HELP does not
 cause the cold start.  This feature was not mentioned in the
 Other than programs to format hard drives, the only software I am aware
 of for these devices requires SpartaDOS.  There are programs to:
 1) swap drive assigns.
 2) Lock/Unlock drives/partitions.
 3) Load/Save configuration tables from/to disk files.
 4) Load/Save BB partition lists from/to disk files.
 5) Print info contained in config files and partition list files.
 6) Load a partition from the partition list into the configuration table
    of the BB.
 There are also some .CMD files used by BBS Express Pro! sysops to work
 with the MIO.  I am sure there is software available that I don't know
 about or forgot to mention here.
 There are two buttons, two switches, and a bank of eight dip switches on
 the BlackBox.  One of the buttons is used to access the menu.  The other
 dumps the screen to the printer.  This can be done at any time.  One of
 the switches allows you to select either text or graphics mode for the
 screen dump.  In graphics mode all Atari graphics characters appear on
 paper just like they do on your screen.  In graphics mode, screen dumps
 take the full width of 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper.  This makes a graphics 0
 screen look like graphics 2 on the print-out.
 The other toggle switch write protects ALL hard drives.  This is handy
 when you want to try out a new program and don't want it to mess with
 the hard drives.
 The dip switches are used as follows:
 1) Force printer fault line to NO FAULT.  This causes the BB to not send
    any data to the printer.  You could have another printer interface
    (and printer) attached to your computer and control which printer
    prints with this switch.
 2) Enable hard disk port/high speed floppy SIO.  This allows you to
    disable access to your hard drives and disable the BB's high speed
    SIO code for floppy disks.
 *3) Enable parallel printer port.
 *4) Enable RS232 port.
 *5) Enable printer line feeds.
 6) Printer is a Prowriter. (Used by graphics dump routine.)
 7) MIO compatibility mode where hard drives are concerned.  The MIO
    inverts all data as it writes to the hard drive.  In normal mode, the
    BlackBox doesn't to this.  Flipping this switch to the MIO mode
    allows a hard drive to be used by either the MIO or the BlackBox.
    Note: this affects ALL hard drives that are online.
 8) unused.
 * Switches 3-5 are mainly for systems with no hard drives online.  If a
 hard drive is present this info is contained on the configuration
 The BB gives more storage capacity on hard drives than does the MIO.  It
 is able to format a drive using 512 byte sectors.  These are accessed as
 256 byte sectors after formatting.  (Each 512 byte physical sector
 contains two 256 byte logical sectors).  CSS claims that using 512 byte
 sector format can add up to 20% to the storage available on a hard
 drive.  I gained a little over 10% formatting my 40 meg hard drive in
 this mode.  I have a 40 meg drive that formats out as follows:
 Format type             sectors
 MIO - 256 byte sectors   146685.
 BB  - 256 byte sectors   148994.
 BB  - 512 byte sectors  *162530.
 * This is the number of logical (256 byte) sectors.
 The only way I have found to empty the printer buffer on the BlackBox is
 to enter the port status menu and cycle the buffer off/on.
 Printing through the Printer buffer with either the BlackBox or the MIO
 slows down both the printing process and the computer (especially when
 accessing other devices like disk drives).
 The MIO has been plagued by problems and rumors of problems since it was
 released.  I personally know of at least 11 MIO's that had to be sent in
 for repairs at one time or another.  (And I only know 8 people who own
 MIO's.)  I bought my MIO's second hand and both had been sent back by
 the original owners to be fixed.  Here are some problems I have
 experienced when using the MIO:
 1) Wierd things have happened when I used the printer buffer.
    Everything from wierd flickering and characters showing up on the
    screen to garabage being sent to the printer.
 2) I could not use my Mac/65 cartridge and the ram in the MIO at the
    same time.  When I tried, the ramdisk(s) formatted themselves
    whenever they felt like it and I had to use a sector editor to
    recover anything important.  To my knowledge no one else has had this
    particular problem.
 3) When using terminal programs the MIO frequently locked up on me while
    I was online.  I suspect that this is a problem when the MIO is the
    originator of a call because I know of many BBS's using the MIO that
    have been online for a long time with no such problem.
 Note:  BobTerm 1.20 claims to solve this lockup problem by supplying
 it's own handler for the MIO which also allows it to transfer at a true
 19200 baud rate.
 I have had no problems with the BlackBox except when I wired it into my
 230 watt power supply.  I reversed the +12v and -12v lines and fried a
 couple of chips.  A normal person would not have done this.
 Product Support:
 ICD has apparently lost interest in the Atari 8-bit machines.  At this
 time they offer little support for the MIO.  If anything goes wrong,
 they are not likely to offer any help to the user at all beyond fixing
 them for $40.00+parts+shipping.  My own experience with ICD has left a
 lot to be desired.  I have been using ICD products since about 1984.  I
 use the SpartaDOS X-cartridge and when I first got my MIO, I couldn't
 exit the menu without the computer doing a cold-start.  Thinking
 something was wrong with the MIO, I called ICD for help.  My call was
 forwarded to to a technical assistance person.  I explained my system
 and the problem to him and he told me that the MIO was faulty and to
 send it in for repairs.  He informed me that the repairs would cost
 $40.00+parts+shipping.  Well, it turns out that exiting the MIO menu
 with a cartridge plugged in causes a cold-start with all MIO's.  So much
 for getting good help from ICD for their 8-bit products.  (In fairness
 to ICD, I hear that they do a better job supporting their ST product
 CSS, on the other hand has proved to be a gold mine for Atari 8-bitters.
 As I mentioned above, I fried a couple of chips on my BlackBox.  I
 called CSS and (with some embarassment) told Ron exactly what I did.
 Instead of saying 'Send it in with your wallet, checkbook, and credit
 cards' he told me exactly what chips I had probably fried.  I found the
 chips at Radio Shack (for about $2.00) and fixed my BlackBox.  These
 folks really do care!
 The people at CSS have answered some pretty dumb questions for me (one
 or two intelligent ones too). They have even helped people with their
 ICD products.  They have also given me any technical information I
 needed - or thought I needed - to write programs for the BlackBox.
 BB really stands for BobBox.  (For creator Bob Puff.)
 The MIO has been plagued with reliability problems.  The RS232 handler
 has been known to cause lockups when online and drops the carrier (hangs
 up the modem) when RESET is pressed.  The print spooler sometimes does
 wierd things and is only semi-reliable.  I have been told that the
 spooler sometimes writes to hard drives instead of the printer.  I kept
 the spooler turned off when my hard drive was attached.  I just didn't
 want to verify this the hard way.  Thee MIO is also known to have
 (electronic) noise problems, especially when used with 130XE's.  The
 result is loss of ramdisk configuration and/or contents.  I have only
 heard a few complaints about the hard disk interface on the MIO.  I have
 experienced no problems with the hd interface.
 Pretty is as pretty does.  I have found the BB to be a far more reliable
 tool than the MIO.  It is more flexible in most areas, offers more
 options, and product support is just fantastic.  And it costs less too.
 The only problem I have heard of regarding the BB had to do with printer
 dumps when an older Gemini-10X printer was used.  A ROM upgrade has
 fixed this problem.  The RS232 handler doesn't cause lockups, and you
 can press RESET without losing the carrier.  I have never had any wierd
 stuff happen when using the printer handler.  I don't have the 64k
 spooler on the BB but am sure it meets up to the standards of the rest
 of this fine product.  The screen dump feature works well.  It will dump
 any graphics 0-2 screen with no problem and has no problem with most
 other graphics modes.  The hard disk interface works flawlessly and
 allows use of 512 byte as well as 256 byte sector formats.
 The BB also has an MIO compatible mode so that you can use hard drives
 that have been written to by an MIO.  CSS claims that the BB is up to
 20% faster than the MIO depending on the brand of controller and drive
 used.  I noticed only a slight increase in speed after converting to BB
 format using my Adaptec controllers with 3 different brands of hard
 I really like the BlackBox.  I heartily recommend the BB over the MIO
 and encourage all 8-bit Atari users to support CSS.  After all, they are
 supporting us.
 Now if they would only get that floppy controller out...
 The BlackBox -             $199.95
                w/64k ram   $249.95
 BB Case                    $ 39.95
 Available from: Computer Software Services
                 P.O Box 17660
                 Rochester, NY  14617
 Phone: (716) 586-5545
 BBS    (716) 247-7157
 The MIO w/256k ram           $239.95
         w/1 meg ram          $469.95
 XE adapter                   $ 16.95
 Available from:  ICD, Inc
                  1220 Rock Street
                  Rockford, IL   61101
 Phone (815) 968-2228
 BBS   (815) 968-2229

 PART 34 - "The Transportable Computer"
 by Donald A. Thomas, Jr.
 (This is PART 34 of a series of articles published and distributed by
 Artisan Software.  Please feel free to copy and distribute this article
 as you please provided you include all unedited text.  Also feel free to
 upload to boards and communication services.  These articles are
 designed to entice you to take constructive action.  Write to involved
 parties and tell them how YOU feel about the subject.)
 The Atari Portfolio is a stick of dynamite that has explosive power.
 For less than three hundred dollars, an individual can obtain a fully
 functional and programmable MS-DOS command compatible computer that fits
 in the palm of their hand.  Even adding the cost of peripherals, the
 Portfolio is more than a thousand dollars less than the its nearest
 competitor- The Poquet computer (retailing at $1999).  This is NOT meant
 to be a sales pitch, it's pure fact.  Anyone who has the need for a
 portable computer can link the Portfolio and quickly transfer compatible
 data within seconds.  Not hours, not minutes, but seconds.  And this
 link is not limited to MS-DOS platforms.  Virtually any computer in the
 world can exchange data with the Portfolio.
 The secret lies in two areas.  The most significant of the two is the
 ASCII character set standard.  A pure ASCII text file on one computer
 means exactly the same thing on another.  Therefore, the files that are
 transmitted between two incompatible computers are 100% compatible.
 This has always been true, but is now being better understood by more
 and more people.  The second part of this secret is the ease of the
 physical link.
 There is an energy department in Canada which is looking at Portfolios
 as a remote, unmanned environmental data collecting device.  Reporters
 and photographers are discovering the Portfolios' ideal design for
 notetaking and scheduling.  Salespeople are providing customers with
 quotes and receipts instantly.  Marketing people are compiling
 statistics with up to a 15 pound lighter load than the laptop
 alternatives.  Hackers like the uninterrupted on-line time since the
 desktop is difficult to take on vacation.  Executives keep in touch with
 their E-mail and appointments all in one machine.  Students find the
 Portfolio easy to carry between classes.  The Portfolio has already
 proven its broad potential and is fast becoming a trusted tool.
 I think the most amazing phenomenon I have encountered in regard to the
 Portfolio, is how well every platform is quickly learning to make the
 connection.  The Portfolio has already been advertised as "the Portable
 Mac".  Of course MS-DOS users get along fine with it and have since the
 beginning.  Just about every category is covered.  Well, except for the
 Atari ST market.  I am simply dumbfounded at how many Atari 16-bit
 computer users struggle with the Portfolio.  Now before you all start
 writing and telling me you get along fine with it, I am talking general
 terms here.  It seems that the Atari 16-bit community has the most
 difficult time exchanging files with the Portfolio.  Of course, you are
 probably an exception.
 I personally feel that the Atari ST and MEGA computer user should
 investigate the Portfolio closely, even if it is not purchased.  For
 those who are committed to help spread the Atari namesake around, the
 Portfolio is the easiest advertisement Atari has ever produced.  One of
 those users referred to above is a broadcaster in the Los Angeles area.
 I spoke to him one day and he told me he was ready to buy a desktop.  He
 said Memory Cards were beginning to cost as much as one anyway and the
 Portfolio inspired a confidence in computers.  Since he was so pleased
 with the Portfolio, he wanted advice as to what desktop to buy.  I sent
 him to our friends in Bellflower (Mid-Cities Comp Soft) and this
 broadcaster is now a proud owner of an ST.  The Portfolio is CLEARLY THE

 When I first learned of the Portfolio, I resented Atari's apparent
 departure from the ST/MEGA environment.  I still cringe from time to
 time to think that Atari could ever decide to abandon their traditional
 line of computers.  It is obvious they will not as they have now the new
 STEs and TTs being introduced in the United States.  As I learned more
 about the Portfolio, I was amazed at its total function abilities.  The
 Portfolio is enhanced even more by optional software and hardware.  I
 use mine for light spreadsheets, but mostly for writing my thoughts as I
 commute to work each day.
 I also take it along on business trips for the address book functions.
 And everywhere I go someone stops and asks about it.  If they heard
 about it, they are amazed that it is exactly as advertised.  If they
 didn't, then they are simply amazed.
 If you have been considering to link the Portfolio to an ST/MEGA
 computer, then read on.  It's easy, inexpensive and some fun too.  What
 you will need is the optional Serial Interface and a "DB9 (female) to a
 DB25 (male) null-modem serial cable".  If that sounds like a lot, just
 know it is a rather standard cable and your computer dealer will know
 what all that means.  The cable should not cost more than $20.
 You will also need communications software on the host computer (the ST/
 MEGA).  One popular title is FLASH, but there are many good ones.  You
 will not  need a communications program on the Portfolio.  Read my lips
 ... you will not need a communications program on the Portfolio.  Make
 the connections between serial ports using the interface and cable.  Run
 your communications software on the host and designate a TEXT receive.
 When that is set up, then go to the Portfolio and type COPY FILENAME.EXT
 AUX.  This will issue a copy of your file out through the serial port.
 To receive a file on the Portfolio, type COPY AUX FILENAME.EXT.  Please
 replace FILENAME.EXT with the true filename.
 If you have problems, it may be because you have not initialized the
 serial interface through the SETUP menu or some parameters are
 mismatched.  The only parameter you will probably need to set is the
 baud rate on the host computer.  9600 baud is the default on the
 Portfolio and the suggested speed.
 As you become more sophisticated with the Portfolio, you may discover
 that your file transfer needs have grown.  You will need a communication
 program on the Portfolio if you wish to do non-ASCII file transfers, for
 instance, ARTISAN SOFTWARE has just released TRANSPORT for the ST/MEGA
 computers to help you through the confusion.  It is written specifically
 to link traditional Atari computers to the Portfolio.  For beginners, an
 express menu system will enable fast file transfers and display exactly
 what and when to type the commands you need.  Advanced users will learn
 to access two advanced menu option screens.  Included is the ability to
 generate non-transferrable file reports, strip files on non-ASCII code
 characters, Xmodem file transfers and much more.  It will work on color
 or monochrome systems and sells for $24.95.  You may obtain TRANSPORT
 from your local Atari computer dealer or you may order direct from
 Artisan Software.  Direct orders must add $1.50 shipping/handling and
 California must add 6.25% sales tax.
 If you desire more information about the Portfolio, consider one of the
 many Atari publications, visit some users' groups meetings and subscribe
 For information on how you can "JOIN THE REVOLUTION" and actively
 support the exposure of Atari computers, write:  ARTISAN SOFTWARE, P.O.
 Box 849, Manteca, California  95336.

 Z*MAGAZINE Atari 8-Bit Online Magazine is a bi-weekly magazine covering
 the Atari and related computer community.   Material  contained in this
 edition may be reprinted without permission,  except where otherwise
 noted,  unedited,  with  the  issue number, name and author included at
 the  top  of each reprinted article.  Commentary and opinions presented
 are those of the individual author and  does  not  necessarily  reflect
 the opinions of Z*MAGAZINE or the staff.  Z*Magazine Atari 8-Bit Online
 Magazine, Z*Net Atari Online Magazine, Z*Net  are  copyright (c)1990 by
 Rovac Industries  Inc, a registered corporation.  Post  Office  Box 59,
 Middlesex, New Jersey 08846.  (908) 968-2024.  Z*Net  Online  BBS  24
 Hours, 1200/2400 Baud, (908) 968-8148.  We can be reached on CompuServe
 at 71777,2140 and on GEnie at Z-NET.
                  Z*Magazine Atari 8-Bit Online Magazine
                Copyright (c)1990, Rovac Industries, Inc..

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