I just bought your magazine off the rack It looks sharp. It sounds smart. I like it.
I am a technician, musician, and self-taught programmer of a Commodore 64. Having Hogged that machine into submission, I decided to take a step up. It may seem absurd, but 1 don't think I was alone when I narrowed my choice to either a Commodore 128 or a 520 ST. Did I want an untried "wave of the future" or a powerful version of an old friend?
My interest in MIDI applications should have decided the issue, but I have yet to see a professional MIDI sequencer available for the only computer with a built in MIDI interface. I assume there will be many out soon, but I still have a hard time explaining to musicians how the ST could be the ultimate MIDI machine when I can't point to any software.
Then I saw your magazine. I bought it. I haven't even bought the machine yet! There, in the first issue, is a simple sequencer with enough to get started expanding. I hate starting projects from scratch, but point me in the right direction, and I can turn out some code.
For some time now I have felt that there was a huge gulf between MIDI coverage in computer magazines and music magazines. Surely I am not the only musician who thinks that "programming" is more than creating patches on a DX. A magazine devoted to the ST is an ideal place to create a forum on the serious business of music applications.
In the meantime, I have a disk and a magazine that have made up my mind. The next time you hear from me, I will actually have a machine to run it on.
Roy M. Randall
Look for increased coverage of MIDI products and programming in upcoming issues of START. We're interested in hearing from people like Mr. Randall who have an interest in MIDI. Potential authors, this is your chance.
After finishing five years of college (three undergraduate, two graduate) as a Broadcast and Design major, I want to work as a computer artist. Already I'm finding the ST limiting, and I eagerly await hardware and software to improve the ST's graphics.
I have a few questions I hope you can answer. Why is the ST limited to displaying only 16 colors at once? Will Tom Hudson ever design a program that lets you paint with all 512 colors? And what is the mysterious "blitter" chip?
Brian J. Pohl
The SHIFTER chip on the ST is designed to display 16 colors simultaneously. It is possible, with clever programming, to change the color palette on every scan line. However, getting more than 16 colors on any individual scan line is virtually impossible and certainly impractical for anything but the most dedicated displays.
On the topic of Tom Hudson: Tom's most recent creation, DEGAS Elite from Batteries Included, which is scheduled for release in time for Christmas, does not improve upon the standard of 16 colors at once. But ,judging from some of the creations we've seen, this isn't much of a limitation. (In "Degas Art Techniques" this issue, Darrel Anderson presents a preview of DEGAS Elite and a fantastic tutorial on computer art using only, get this, four colors).
If you had hoped the blitter chip would add colors to your display you're out of luck. However, the blitter, which Atari has in prototype, will be a boon to dynamic displays (those that move) because it allows high-speed memory transfers. The speed of moving images to and from the screen will increase markedly, improving drawing, scrolling, and animation, but doing little to increase the number of colors or the resolution of the display. As we understand it, the blitter chip will be available as an upgrade for both the 1040 and the 520.
A FEW WORDS ON 1ST WORD
At last (or should I say at laST?), a magazine especially for ST owners! Congratulations on being first.
I am not an experienced ST owner. I am particularly interested in articles that will help me write my own simple programs for useful tasks. Please try to provide some tutorials for us beginners; hopefully one day we'll understand what all this great stuff means.
Your premiere issue of START mentioned that 1ST Word will only allow single-spaced documents. I have an updated version of the program that does in fact double-space: under the Style menu there is a heading called "Spacing" When you click on this, 1ST Word will double-space all text until you turn it off again.
Suzanne Oliff Mississauga,
As START matures you can expect to see more articles directed to the inexperienced user. We at START are dedicated to striking a balance of articles that will satisfy all our readers. Take note that subscribers to START also receive twelve issues of Antic, which includes The ST Resource.
We have been barraged with letters about the double-spacing problem of 1ST Word. The latest versions of the program do allow you to double-space your document. However, there is still no easy way to change an already single-spaced document into a double-spaced one. The straightforward method actually requires you to reformat every paragraph! For an interesting solution, read the next letter...
I bought my monochrome 1040 ST and the first issue of START on the same day. Low cost, user-friendly word processing was my primary interest in purchasing the Atari. When I finally solved the mysteries of adapting the 1ST Word printer templates to my printer, I turned my attention to finding a quick way of printing double-spaced drafts. Often, I want a double-spaced draft so that I have plenty of room for editing on paper, hut I want the final document to be single-spaced. Unfortunately, I found I had to reformat the entire document to change the spacing- an obnoxious and time-consuming process. A little late-night ingenuity led me to the following solution:
1) Load 1ST Word, and, using the File menu, open the file containing the patch template for your printer (from inside your PRINTER folder). These templates are designated by HEX.
2) Under printer characteristics, locate item one, the linefeed command. Add to it a comma and a capital letter A. The line which previously read
1, D, A * Linefeed WITH return should be modified to read
1, D, A, A * Linefeed WITH return This will cause two linefeeds to accompany each return, thereby causing all printing to be double-spaced.
3) Use the File menu to Save as... DOUBLE.HEX in your PRINTER folder. Of course, don't modify your original 1ST Word disk; only change a backup
4) Quit 1ST Word and run (open) the program INSTALL.PRG from your PRINTER folder, selecting the DOUBLE.HEX file at the prompt.
5) When the installation is done, you will have created a new 1ST_PRINT.DOT (for dot-matrix printers) or 1ST_PRINT.DSY (for daisy wheel printers) file inside your PRINTER folder. Copy the files 1ST_PRINT.PRG, 1ST_PRINT.DSY, and 1ST_PRINT.DOT from your PRINTER folder onto a formatted disk. Label the disk "DRAFT PRINTING."
6) When you are preparing your document that will require double-spaced drafts, use the Layout option under the File menu and choose the following settings:
Paper Length = 33 (one-half the normal 66)This will print 25 lines per page. While you're preparing your layout, you might as well add the date and "draft" to the header or footer.
TOF Margin = 1
Head Margin = 2
Foot Margin = 2
BOF Margin = 3
7) When you are ready to print a double-spaced draft, make sure your DRAFT PRINTING disk is in drive A. If you only have a one drive system you will have to save a copy of your document onto this disk. When you print from the File menu, the result will he a correctly formatted, double-spaced version of your document.
8) When you want a final, single-spaced printout, use the Layout option again to reset the paper length to 66 and the margins to 1, 3, 4, and 5 respectively, thereby providing a total of 54 lines per page. Return the disk containing the original printer files to drive A. If you have a one drive system, you will have to save a copy of the document onto this disk. You can now print with the Print command.
Thomas J. Harley, Jr.
Palo Alto, California