Z*Net: 27-Jul-90 #530From: Len Stys (aa399@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 08/25/90-10:22:57 AM Z
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From: aa399@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Len Stys) Subject: Z*Net: 27-Jul-90 #530 Date: Sat Aug 25 10:22:57 1990 ////// // // ////// ////// // \/ /// // // // // /// // // // ////// // // /\ // /// // // ////// // // /////// // 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. BRIGHT SPOT: Online Magazines can't carry the soundtrack of Roseann Barr's singing of the National Anthem..... =============================== Z*NET NEWSWIRE =============================== GEORGE MILLER LEAVES MICHTRON ============================= 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 INTRODUCES SCSI PRODUCT =============================== 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 pending...". The following is a direct quote, un-altered, from the FAXed letter and is reprinted with full permission of Network News Services and Frank Shean: 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. EDITOR ST INFORMER, OREGON U.S.A. JULY 27, 1990 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 trade. 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! Sincerely, 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. ================================= WHY ATARI USERS ARE LIKE THEY ARE ================================= 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 OTHER PUBLICATION OR NEWSLETTER WITHOUT EXPRESS PERMISSION FROM ST- 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? PIRATES 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.) CHEAP }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. LOYAL 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. INFORMED AND INVOLVED 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. MILITANT 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 126.96.36.199". 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 188.8.131.52". 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! firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com GEnie: F.DEJESUS1 ============================= 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 answers. 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. LIGHTNING STRIKES 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! Z*NET ECHOS UPDATE 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 mentioned. 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 unknown.) 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 performance. 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 completely. 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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