Letters From Our Readers
Ten Springs Short of a Load?
Please be aware that the Megatouch kit for the ST does not provide enough springs to upgrade the entire keyboard. It is about 10 springs short. For some reason, they decided for the customer that several keys and all the function keys did not need stiffening, and so did not include the springs. How much can 10 extra springs cost? Ten cents, maybe?
Los Gatos, CA
The Megatouch Package explains this: 'Due to the infrequency of use and difficulty of removal, we do not recommend that you remove the darkened keys shown in Figure 1." The "darkened" keys are the spacebar, Left Shift, Return and Function keys. While we disagree with the assertion that the first three keys are used infrequently, we do agree that they're difficult to remove, especially the spacebar, which requires two springs.--START Editor.
I have just renewed my subscription and thought I'd write a few lines to let you know how you are doing and to also make a few suggestions.
First, I am very pleased that START now appears every month. However, I noticed that the programs were not of the same quality as compared to those in the quarterly issues. But, with programs like ST Sciplot and Pro Calendar in the November 1988 issue, I see that you are back on the right track.
The magazine is very well laid out and informative. I especially like your reviews. They seem to be thorough, to the point and, more importantly, unbiased. I also particularly like the columns "Mac and PC on the ST" and "Small Tools." Articles about floppy and hard drives are also what I like to see in START.
"For the Fun of It" and "Programming in BASIC" are welcomed sections of the magazine, but how about "Programming in C" for the intermediate C programmer? I am learning C and I find the C programs in START a bit too complex for me to chew on.
I noticed that there is often space left on the START disks. Maybe you could put little tutorials about C with some code in that space. Or how about filling it with little programs, pictures, clip art or other goodies from the public domain? You could also put some gossip in there or the latest news flash about the blister and the new TOS in ROM, or even a mini BBS with questions and answers from readers. I hate to see perfectly good sectors go to waste.
A few words about games. I like simple games; they are often the most fun and relaxing to play. So how about a simple pinball game, a Pac-Man-like game, or even a primitive classic like Pong in a future issue?
Finally, have you ever seen a thesaurus program to which you can add entries of your own? I think I have asked this question to every ST dealer in Southern Ontario and so far the answer has been "no." Any programmers at START interested in writing such a program? This (yet to be found) program is one big reason why I am learning C. Can anyone help? I have considered replacing the entries in a commercial thesaurus program with my own, but since it seems that these thesauruses are compressed to save space, my plan could prove too difficult to implement. I would appreciate any kind of information you or fellow readers of START can give me on this subject.
We like to think that we are producing a uniformly high-quality disk every month, but sometimes we hit the bull's-eye for one person, sometimes for another. For example, we've received a number of letters praising SciPlot and others complaining because it wouldn't run on a color monitor. We'll keep trying to present the best software available--there's still no better software bargain than a START Disk.
We strive for impartiality in our reviews. We do not review every product we receive at START; some are poor or derivative in design, while others do have some merit. We will not spend scarce editorial space on the bombs. As to the good products, there are so many out there that we have to make some hard editorial choices as to which products we will review. Often, we will collect a number of "small" products of note and review them together. Watch for more of this in the future. And, readers, if you disagree with any of our reviews, please feel free to write and express your views.
We began our "Programming in BASIC" column last summer, aiming at the predominance of BASIC ST programmers. We've decided to rotate the column among a number of languages. Since BASIC is the most common ST programming language, we will continue to emphasize it, but in order to serve the varied interests of our readers, we will be rotating our programming column.
We've considered filling all available bytes on our START disks with public domain programs, clip art or demos, but so far, the problems of testing, documenting and obtaining rights have outweighed the benefits. As an example of the potential problems we (and you) face, we like to examine any program before we allow it to be published on a START disk to insure that there aren't any potential viruses or other destructive code lurking in an otherwise helpful program. Also, START readers have come to expect adequate documentation with any program on a START Disk. We just don't think our readers are ready to trade off an empty few kbytes here and there for the potential problems of undocumented software.
Another aspect of including PD software on our disks is that no one likes to pay for something that can be obtained for free from a BBS or users group. We are certain readers would complain that we were "padding" our disks. Any readers out there with views on this subject?
As to your question about games, we're working on a wide variety of games for 1989 and will take your opinion into consideration in making our decisions.
We know of no editable Thesaurus program, but would welcome a quality submission of such a program. Anyone out there working on one? Let us know.--START Editor
First, congratulations for a good magazine. Although I am more interested in systems issues (for me Charles Johnson's START Selector has been the most useful program on your monthly disk) and would certainly like to see more of these, I eagerly await the arrival of START every month.
One complaint I have is your bias toward GFA BASIC in your programs. Your January 1989 disk gave me a chance to try out GFA BASIC 2.0, and I don't think it compares to True BASIC, which is closer to ANSI BASIC, has more number-crunching ability and has an excellent screen editor. It also has the advantage of portability to the IBM and Mac, which GFA BASIC does not.
Now to my problem: I have learned that some good European software exists which would be very useful for my work. I am specifically interested in a good DEC VT-100 and Tektronix 4014 terminal emulation package and the TeX/LaTeX word processing package. Is there any painless way for me to get hold of this and other interesting European software? I am sure that many of your readers will be interested in your answer.
Steven M. Moore
The languages used for START disk programs naturally reflect the languages of choice of our contributors. The number of GFA BASIC program submissions we receive is higher than that of any other ST programming language. Because the programs we publish come from this pool, they reflect this percentage. This high number of GFA submissions also indicates that GFA is a language our readers are interested in learning about, so our Programming in BASIC column provides much more support for it.
This is certainly not to say we ignore other BASICs. For example, when Delmar Searls demonstrated his proficiency in True BASIC in his See Sorts program (December 1988), we asked him to begin writing True BASIC tutorials for our Programming in BASIC column. His second installment appears in this issue. START welcomes program submissions in various languages to give our readers a sample of what's available.
As it happens, the TeX/LaTeX word processor you mentioned is now available in the United States; see this issue's News, Notes & Quotes for details.
Atari Corp. sells a VT-100 terminal emulator; you can order it from them directly for $39.95. Atari's address is 1196 Borregas Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94088, (408) 745-2000. We will ask our European Report columnist Andre Willey to try and track down the Tektronix 4014 emulator you mentioned and to address the issue of the availability of European software in general.--START Editor.
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START Welcomes submissions. Please include both hard copy printouts of articles and program listings as well as disk files on ST compatible disks. Media will be returned if self-addressed, stamped mailer is supplied. START assumes no responsibility for unsolicited editorial materials.