Classic Computer Magazine Archive A.N.A.L.O.G. ISSUE 59 / APRIL 1988 / PAGE 78

ST notes

by D.F.Scott

Newsworthy happenings in the ST world.

GFA This,
GFA That...

Without a doubt, MichTrons GFA BASIC is becoming for ST programmers what Turbo Pascal is for the PC world. (In Germany, the f in GFA is in lowercase, standing for fur-for, in English.) Every few months, it seems, Mark Brutell of MichTron Customer Service introduces another GFA-supporting product. Now it has introduced its first "toolkit" manufactured outside of Germany: GFA BASIC Companion, by John B. Holder of Marathon Computer Press.
    The package includes: a simple-form resource construction set, for the creation of *.RSC files which define custom-design input boxes, and help screens; a GEM routine library so that BASIC programs may utilize AES/VDI subroutines and GEMDOS calls; and a complete multiscreen BASIC tutorial. At first glance, the package appears well thought out and easy to execute. We'll give you a full review in ST Log soon. //

The laST well hear of NeXT
A report in a weekly computer newspaper rumored that Atari management was negotiating with Steve jobs, former Apple Computer Chairman and current CEO of NeXT, Inc., to reach an agreement making Atari a licensed manufacturer of NeXT's new 68030-based RISC workstations.
    Shiraz Shivji, speaking on behalf of Atari, categorically denied any deals were even being considered between Atari and NeXT, saying that between the two companies "there is nothing." Shivji added that he felt Jack Tramiel, Steve Jobs and H. Ross Perot-NeXT's financial backer, former GM vice president and noted philanthropistare "three men of different lines." //

Yet another do-everything accessory bonanza
Timeworks has released Partner ST, which includes the familiar calculator, alarm clock, address book, memo pad and TOS utility features. To save a lot of space, let's focus on Partner's original features.
    There's a 60,000-word thesaurus, independent of any spelling checker; an expense account manager for keeping track of your ever-increasing credit card debt; a table of vital statistics like metric conversion equivalents, mileage between cities, and commonly used toll-free numbers; an expanded printer control panel for setting specific type styles; and a Breakout-type game window. The calculator is specially equipped for financial calculations, like interest and loan amortization, and can operate in standard or reverse polish notation, like an HP-15.
    The primary deficiency in most doeverything accessory packages is the amount of memory they consume. After you've made your ST capable of doing everything, it seems you have no space left to do anything else. Timeworks may have conquered this deficiency, perhaps borrowing a cue from our own Charles F. "Desk Manager" Johnson. At boot-up, Partner's configuration screen pops up, so that you can load into the system only those features you need for that particular session. If you're going to be churning out C source code, for instance, you certainly don't need a thesaurus taking up space. As for the Breakout game, you'll proabably need that continually. The RAM normally occupied by those functions you don't want, is thus freed.
    The list price is a sensible $69.95. //

Life in a memory residence.
The memory-resident space in my computer is becoming rather crowded these days, and is in dire need of a landlord.
    Over the hill, though, I hear the march of yet one more potential tenant for my accessory apartments: MaxPak, by a company called Softwerx in Murray, Utah. At first glance, one will notice it contains much of the standard fare of utilities: RAMdisk, printer spooler, clock with alarm, calculator.
    The differences are these: it lets you configure macro keys to perform mathematical calculations on the fly. You can print out any text file any time, in the manner it was formatted-boldface, italic, proportional-with varying page sizes so perforations will be skipped. The calculator can send a result as input to a program. A 1st Word-like character table is available, and a "screen saver" timed monitor disconnection switch is also included.
    The major difference in this package is that these accessories are non-GEM, so they may be accessible via macro keys while running non-GEM programs such as Micro EMACS, Zoomracks and Neo-Chrome. Whether you'd need macro keys or a calculator from within Neo-Chrome is entirely your affair. Suggested retail price is $49.95. //

If only it were produced in "Sensurround..."
Our game pick of the month is Terrorpods, which was plucked out of a 1950s sci-fi scenario, but designed by one of the 1980's leading interactive computer art groups, Psygnosis. Some of you will remember that I considered Deep Space, a previous Psygnosis product, to be slow. I'm very pleased to announce that Terrorpods is not slow.
    The game is set on a lunar mining colony-on some other moon-which is under attack by a swarm of terrorpods. These are machines with heads like Spy vs. Spy characters and bodies that are a cross between Beetle Bailey and a burnt Terminator. Your job is to save the various installations from impending oblivion, and to rebuild those which have already lost an argument to a terrorpod.
    These installations, however, are not noted for their gratitude; and although you need their fuel and minerals so you can rescue them later, you still have to barter, beg and plead with them. The feeling somewhat resembles running a corner jewelry stand during the Bombing of London. Your main vehicle-from which you have a firstperson perspective of the impending carnage-burns fuel more like a freightliner than a Ford Escort.
    The sound is well digitized; your torpedoes give a rousing shriek rather than a boring beep. Psygnosis's animative skills are improving with each new game. I have a feeling if Deep Space were produced today, it would be a much better game. //

Thirty-second notes
In the program Music Studio, thirty second notes are the shortest notes there are. So, for that matter, are these:
    Electronic Arts has finally released Marble Madness. And Mindscape-not Atari as once expected-has released Gauntlet, and will be releasing Paperboy, for the ST. These three games are ports from the coin-op editions of the same name produced by Atari Games Co.-now the American subsidiary of Namco, the creator of Pac-Man, Galaga, and Pole Position.
    Regent Software's graphic database The Informer is now available nationwide, listing for $99.95. In this base, data is tabulated in spreadsheet form and reported in a user-defined graphic format... Bantam Books, publisher of the slick, well typeset series of reference guides for Amigas and Apple II computers, is now releasing similarly stylish guides for the ST. Its first entry is Atari ST Application Programming by Lawrence J. Pollock and Eric J. T. Weber of Diatech Publications. The price is $24.95.
    By the time you read this, Origin Systems should have released Ultima V, the latest in Lord British's series of adventures through the Dark Ages in search of inspiration, truth and cash. Ultima's new publisher-barring any legal complications-will be Broderbund ... Hybrid Arts has publicly released MIDI Maze, the favorite game of Atari conventions and Neil Harris. Included in the final version for public consumption are a player-vs.-computer mode (no MIDI cables required here), and mazes which are editable with an ASCII text editor.
    Those are the notes for this month, a virtual concerto of facts and ideas, interlaced with interludes of entertainment. I'll see you on Delphi. //