Letters From Our Readers
Public Domain Or Not?
I am the public domain disk librarian for the Owen Sound Atari ST club, and I also belong to the Toronto Atari Federation (TAF). I would like to know your magazine's thoughts on some items.
As I understand, you have back issues of some issues of START, but do not promote the sale of them, and some are out of print. Some magazines (I don't know if yours is one) put their articles and programs on CompuServe and GEnie.
I would like to know if/when programs published by START and placed on their disks become public domain, if at all.
We do put back issue programs and documentation from START and Antic on Antic Online, our electronic magazine on CompuServe. Log onto CompuServe and type GO ANTIC to check the current listings. At this time, START programs do not go into the public domain.
Even if an issue is sold out, you can still order its disk from us. Just call (800) 234-7001 and specify the disk from the issue you want. To get a particular article from an out-of-print issue, send us a self-addressed, stamped legal size envelope and $1 and we will send you a photocopy of the article.
Under New Management
In the Special Business Issue of START, you reviewed some business programs, including The Inventory Manager. Please be advised that Regent Software is no longer distributing the program, and I am now marketing Inventory Manager myself. It now sells for $39.95.
For a free brochure, please write me at this address:
Walt La Foret
P.O. Box 166
Fountainville, PA 18923
Start Selector Questions
The START Selector program from the Special Business issue of START is one of the most useful pieces of software I've been able to acquire at any price for my ST. (I believe I've seen a review of a product that performs a similar function priced at $15 or more.)
Alas, I have some bad news--it appears I've encountered a bug. However, it's a situation where I have to do something to make it happen, and can be avoided.
I have a Supra 20-megabyte hard drive running driver version 2.62. (This bug doesn't show up with the hard drive off.) I have DEGAS Elite in a folder named DEGAS (I have encountered the bug with other programs under the same conditions) on logical drive "E." If I run DEGAS and select Drive B from the DEGAS menu, then attempt to load without a disk in the drive, I get the standard alert "The drive doesn't respond, etc." I then choose Retry or Abort from the GEM alert. Then, if I click Cancel on the START Selector, I get four bombs and have to reboot.
I don't have any problems as long as I don't attempt to load from a drive that doesn't have a disk in it and this doesn't show up with the hard drive off.
In my opinion this does not detract from the excellence of your program. I just thought you might want to know that I had come across this.
We were able to duplicate this problem once running DEGAS in a folder on an ICD hard drive. However, following Murphy's Law, when we called programmer Charles Johnson to tell him about it we were unable to duplicate it. Because of this, he's not sure whether the problem is a bug in START Selector or something else; however, be aware that this situation can occur, and it's best not to try to read from a drive that doesn't have a disk in it under these circumstances. It's nearly impossible to track down a bug that can't be reliably duplicated; however, we'll keep you informed if we're able to pinpoint the problem.
More On The Start Selector
Here is an idea about the START Selector (Special Issue #3). I would like to use the chosen function, as "save" or "delete" to appear in the START Selector menu to confirm my actual choice, especially when I am in a hurry and things can go wrong. But is it possible?
A Swedish subscriber
No. This must be written into the program that is calling the Item Selector
Truth In Advertising?
The World's Greatest Solitaire Program (START Summer 1988)? Not by a long shot.
First, you're guilty of boldly proclaiming the benefits of a bug. Picking up and moving less than an entire column of cards is illegal. Therefore, a program which allows you to do so is allowing you to cheat, and that is a bug.
Second, I think that it's ergonomically improper to put the "GAME" and "EXIT" boxes between two areas of high activity (the "Aces Spaces"). Too much time is spent dragging cards across those boxes. When I play a game, I do it to relax; and if sometimes I am a little less than careful in my handling of the mouse that is excusable--except by this game. Too many times I have accidently started a new game in the middle of an "old" one because of careless dragging.
Third, another bug popped up during one of my games--I noticed two of the same cards (two deuces of clubs).
I don't mean to disparage what is otherwise an excellent program; it clearly took a lot of talent to write it. But to me, David Addison's Klondike Solitaire, written in GFA BASIC, is still the best.
David B. Rogers
St. Maries, ID
Because of the wide variation in rules for Solitaire/Klondike/Canfield (or whatever you want to call it), we decided it would be more flexible to let you move less than an entire column of cards than to forbid it completely. If you consider this cheating, don't do it! We tested the program extensively and never encountered the bug you described with the deuce of clubs. Klondike programmer Rob Lech is looking into the problem.
Star Trek In Basic?
I am writing to you from a Federal Penitentiary, where I am currently an inmate. I got your address from a book entitled ''The Essential Atari," by Jerry Willis.
The reason I am writing is because I'm in a slump over ST information. I work with a 1040 for six hours daily in the education department here, learning BASIC, and I'm doing video game-type programming.
I know BASIC isn't exactly a good language to program graphics but it's all I have, and considering everything, I think I'm doing pretty well with it. Right now I'm writing a "Star Trek" video game that's rather elaborate and needs some fast graphics to make it look good. I would also like to get a full screen of graphics. instead of having to stay inside a window. I know that the ST has built-in routines that will enable me to do this, however I don't have the information necessary to tell me how to go about it.
It would really be a help if you could tell me how to use the VDISYS command to call the subroutines, and where to PEEK and POKE.
If any ST owners out there would be so kind as to send me something for my ST I will be greatly appreciative, and you may well be partially responsible for making an otherwise unproductive existence very productive.
You can write to me or send information to the address below:
United States Penitentiary
3901 Klien Blvd.
Lompoc, CA 93436
Atari ST Peeks and Pokes (Abacus Software, $16.95, P.O. Box 7211, Grand Rapids, MI 49510, (616) 241-5510) has a good discussion of VDISYS routines. This book was published when the ST first came out, and as such is one of the few sources that give specific examples for use with ST BASIC.
Cheers For Charts
Three cheers for START Charts! I have seen this approach used in so many IBM magazines, and I was glad to see START incorporate this procedure.
Here are some START Charts that I would like to see:
- C compilers (Megamax, Mark Williams)
- Laser printers (Postscript, downloadable fonts?)
- Scanners (Navarone; any others?)
I'm really glad to see Atari back in the market and I'm so excited about my new ST.
Getting Back To The Basics
Your column "Programming In BASIC" is exactly what I've been waiting for since START began publishing. I'm a casual ST user, and your kind of informative articles make my day.
At last! Now this magazine has something for me at my level. I look forward to discovering more about the ST and GFA BASIC from articles like yours.
Mark K. Brown