Once you've downloaded
what's accumulated in the
Atari Group's databases,
maybe you'll want to submit
some of your own files.
by Michael A. Banks
As I write this, it's 103 ° outside. The ground is riddled with crackly brown stuff that used to be soft green grass. My air conditioner is chugging away, giving me occasional pause when the compressor cuts in and the lights dim. (Yes, I do have a surge protector and 100-amp service; the voltage drops are the result of the high demand of constantly running air conditioners throughout the neighborhood ... Sigh.)
But that's okay-I'm dealing with it creatively. Each problem is a challenge. We have a ban on watering, so I catch the airconditioner condensation with a bucket and use that to water our small flower garden and large rosebush (Japanese beetles gotta eat too!) And because Southwestern Ohio, where I live, is particularly hard hit by the drought, the water is shut off during the day on occasion, which makes it tough when I've forgotten to stock up on bottled water. But I can melt a couple trays of ice cubes for fresh drinking water and go on enjoying my iced tea without interruption.
So, it's not so bad-in fact, meeting challenges creatively is kinda fun. But I hope a cold front moves in soon to help dampen the effects of Father Sol's fusion plant so I can turn my creative energies to more interesting pursuits. . ..
Of course, all that's history now, as you read this. Those of you who live in the temperate zones (and even you in the Southwest, Texas and Florida) are enjoying cooler weather and earlier sundowns. And like me, you're probably spending less time on heat survival and more on fun and creative activities.
As I noted in October's column, this time of the year is a good time to catch up on programming, disk-housekeeping and checking out what's accumulated in the Atari Group's databases while you were on vacation or busy coping with the drought. And, now that you have the time, maybe you'll want to share some of your own creativity with other Atari group members via those same databases. So, as promised, this month's column focuses on downloading files from the Atari database, as well as submitting files of your own.
Downloading... step by stepIf you read October's column, you know that you must go through two steps preparatory to downloading a database file: Select a database and read the file's description. To select a database, type DA at the Atari Group's main menu, then the name of the database that you wish to access (or, simply type DA and the first few letters of the database name together: DA GEN).
Once you're at the database prompt, type READ to see the description of the database item. Now, if you just type READ when you enter the database, you're going to see the description of the first (newest) file in the database. So, you might want to do a directory first (press Return), or search for database items by keyword as I described last month.
In case you missed the October issue, here's a thumbnail sketch of the search process: Type SEARCH and a keyword, and you'll be presented with a list of items containing the specified keyword. All commands-including READ-will then operate on the selected items; in effect, you will have created a temporary subset of the database that contains only the files matching your keyword. You can also narrow or expand your search, by selecting either command from the database menu.
Once you've read a file's description you'll be at the ACTION prompt. Here's an example, of what you'll see (in this case, I typed DA GEN at the Atari Group's main menu, to reach the general database, after which I typed READ BOOT CAMP #61):
<<< ANALOG Databases >>>
General Interests Menu:
Directory of Groups Set Topic
Read (and Download) submit
Search (by Keyword) Workspace
Narrow search Help
Widen search Exit
DBASES:Gen> (Dir, Read, Set, Exit) READ BOOT CAMP #61
Name: BOOT CAMP #61
Date: 7-JUN-1988 20:39 by ANALOG4
Karl Wiegers supplies a handful of useful graphics macros in
June's Boot Camp. Please see ANALOG #61 for complete
This program Copyright 1988 by ANALOG Computing.
Keywords: PROGRAM, WIENERS, GRAPHICS, ASSEMBLY, JUNE, #61
1 MAC/65 FILE (Size: 4096 Count: 9)
2 MAC/65 FILE (Size: 5248 Count: 8)
ACTION> (Next, Down, Xm, List)
The Action menuThe ACTION prompt is one of the few places on DELPHI where a menu is not automatically displayed, even if you are running with menu prompting. (The ACTION prompt shows the major commands: "Next," which takes you to the next file; "Down," which sends the designated file to your computer using your default download method (more on this in a bit); "Xm," which initiates an Xmodem file transfer to your computer; and "List," which displays the designated file as unformatted ASCII text.)
To see the ACTION menu, type MENU or ?. This menu is displayed:
Next Group/File Show Files in Group
Download Set Topic
List (Unformatted) Help
Display (word-wrapped) Exit
Description of Group
The first three items on the menu (Next, Download and List), I've just explained. Display is like List, except that the file is displayed wordwrapped and with "More?" prompts. (Note: List and Display should normally be used only with text files.) Description of Group redisplays the current item's description for your review. Show displays a list of the files in the group (as you've noticed in the preceding description, there can be more than one file). Set Topic allows you to select a different database. Help and Exit are self-explanatory.
All of these commands are available whether you display the menu or not.
Download commandsTo download a file, simply type DOWNLOAD, and DELPHI will send the file to you using your default file-transfer method. You can view your current default-file download method by typing /FX_METHOD. (The default method is set at the "Set Preferences" selection at the Atari Group's main menu, via the SETTINGS selection in Workspace, or in the SETTINGS area of USING DELPHI).
In multiple-group database items (as in the "BOOT CAMP #61" example), the first file is sent, unless you specify a different file by number.
If you don't want to use your default filetransfer method (perhaps you want to try Xmodem, but your default is Kermit), you can change it temporarily in one of three ways:
1. Type DOWNLOAD followed by the name of the file-transfer method you wish to use. (Example: DOWN XMODEM.)
2. Type /FX_METHOD followed by the name of the file-transfer method you wish to use. (Example: /FX_METHOD XMODEM.)
3. Type DOWNLOAD MENU to view this menu:
Download Method Menu:
XMODEM (128 byte blocks) RT Buffer Capture
Kermit YB (YMODEM batch)
WXMODEM (Windowed XMODEM) Help
YMODEM (1024 byte blocks) Exit
At this point, you can enter your choice of file-transfer methods and proceed with the download. DELPHI will tell you to prepare your computer to receive the file and provide any other information necessary (like how to abort the transfer), then signal you to begin the necessary procedure to receive the file at your end.
If your terminal software has the capability, I highly recommend using Xmodem, Kermit or Ymodem over ASCII/buffer capture, even for text files. There's much less chance of "garbage" getting into a file with one of those error-checking protocols.
By the way, if you have a comment on a file, you can E-mail it to the person who uploaded the file right at the ACTION prompt. Simply type REPLY, and a DELPHI mail message will be addressed to the membername listed as the file's "Owner" (that's the person who submitted it to the database), with the subject header filled in. Type your comments, then CNTL-Z to send the message, and you're back at the ACTION prompt.
Submit!As you know, a major portion of the files in the Atari Group's databases is contributed by DELPHI members like you. The files are placed there through a process called "submitting." At present, you can receive free time when you submit files (select "Request Free Upload" at the Atari Group's main menu for more information).
Before you can submit a file to a database, the file you wish to submit must be in your Workspace. Files are put in Workspace in one of three ways: by extracting them from Email, by creating them (text files only) with the CREATE command or by uploading them.
You can upload files to your Workspace using almost any file-transfer method: ASCII upload, Xmodem, Kermit, Ymodem, Ymodem Batch or WXmodem. The method you use is up to you. (Type HELP UPLOAD, HELP XUPLOAD, etc., at the Workspace prompt for more information on uploading files.)
Preparing a file for submissionIf you're submitting a program or binary data file, you can upload the file with no special preparation, other than, perhaps, archiving it to save upload and download time.
If you're uploading a text file, there are several things to keep in mind. For openers, I recommend that you upload long text files, rather than try to create them online-the DELPHI text editors are rather difficult to use compared with your average word processor. For files which may be read online-even partially-you should keep your line width (number of columns) down to 70 or so, to accommodate wordwrap. Also, it's a good idea to begin any text file with It (this is a command that causes DELPHI to display any text online formatted in the same way you uploaded it).
Oh yes-text files should generally be 7-bit ASCII.
The submission processAssuming you have a file in your Workspace to submit, the next step is to type SUBMIT at any database prompt (that's at the database name prompt, which says DBASES: and the first few letters of the name of the database, like this: DBASES:Gen > ). Or, better yet, type SUBMIT at the Workspace prompt to submit it right after you upload it.
The actual submission process is merely a matter of responding to a series of prompts, and you can abort the process at any time by entering CNTL-C. When you type SUBMIT, you'll be asked if you are ready to submit a file. Type Y. Next, you'll be asked to enter the number of files you are submitting (usually 1). If you are submitting more than one file, DELPHI will ask if the files are so related that they can be entered as a group in the database. Answer Y.
Additional prompts will request the following information:
The TYPE of file you are submitting. This tells DELPHI whether the file you are submitting is a Program, Article, etc. If you are submitting a program file, DELPHI will ask you if the file must have a special download filename (this is normally the same filename as on your disk).
The TOPIC of the file. This is the database topic under which your submission will be stored. (You need not be in the database topic to which you wish to submit a file.)
A DESCRIPTION of the file. This is the file description that is displayed when the READ command is given by members in the database. It's a good idea to begin this with It on a line by itself, just as you would begin any text file; that way, the description will be displayed as you enter it. Make this as short as possible-but don't scrimp on necessary details! (And if the file is archived, be sure to include this fact, along with the name of the program necessary to de-archive it.)
The DISPLAY NAME of the file. This is the name that is displayed in the database directory. It can be up to 32 characters in length and should be as descriptive as possible.
KEYWORDs for the file. You'll have to select one major keyword from a list of six keywords established for the database topic in question (type ? at the Keyword prompt to see this list). After the initial keyword specification, you can add several keywords of your own choice. Remember that keywords are search aids, so think of the major keywords under which other DELPHI members might search for your file. If you're submitting a printer utility, you might use the keywords PRINTER, UTILITY, the name(s) of the printer(s) with which the utility operates and any other distinguishing features of the program.
After you've entered the all of this information, you'll be prompted for the WORKSPACE FILENAME of the file you are submitting. If you forget the filename, type a question mark or press Return at this prompt; DELPHI will display a list of your Workspace files.
After you have provided all the necessary information, you will be asked if you wish the file you have submitted deleted from your workspace. Answer YES or NO, as you wish, and the submission process will be completed.
The file you submit will not be immediately available in the database to which you submitted it. It is temporarily stored in a special preview area, to await review by the Atari group manager. The manager will review your submission, edit the description or keywords if necessary, and have it in the appropriate database and available to all Atari group members within a day or two.
Conference reminderDon't forget the real-time conference held in the Atari Users' Group every Tuesday at 10 p.m., EST. To join, type CO at the SIG menu, and then type WHO at the conference menu. You'll see a conference group name, with a list of the members participating beneath the group name. The name will be preceded by a number. To join, simply type JOIN followed by the number and you're in! Type to talk. If you get stuck, ask those in the conference group for help or type /HELP
Be a Game Designer!Ever wanted to design your own video game? You're on! MATRAT (Matthew Ratcliff) and the ANALOG's Atari Users' Group are giving you the opportunity to help write a video game. MATRAT has volunteered to do the programming, and a thread in the Forum contains all the design elements and suggestions to be used in the game. Things are progressing nicely, and at this point the action gamers seem to have the upper hand over the adventure gamers. Your input is needed! To get in on the fun, go to the Forum and read Message 37596. Then type FOLLOW to read what everyone else has to say about the design.
Once you have a handle on what's happening, add your comments with ADD or by typing REPLY 37596.
Once the game is under software construction, the thread will be posted in the database. Once completed, the game design may be a feature game and article in ANALOG Computing.
That's it for now. Next month: An eclectic mix of tips and tricks. Until then, see you online!
In addition to having published science fiction novels and books on rocketry, Michael A. Banks is the author of DELPHI:The Official Guide and The Modem Reference-both from Brady Books/Simon & Schuster Look for his articles on telecommunications and tips on using DELPHI in the Atari Users' Group databases. You can contact Banks on DELPHI by sending E-mail to membername KZIN.
As a reader of ANALOG Computing, you are entitled to take advantage of a special DELPHI membership offer. For only $19.95 plus postage and handling ($30 off the standard membership price!), you will receive a lifetime subscription to DELPHI, a copy of the 500-page DELPHI. The Official Guide by Michael A. Banks and a credit equal to one free evening hour at standard connect rates. Almost anyone worldwide can access DELPHI (using Tymnet, Telenet or other networking services) via a local phone call. Make the DELPHI connection by signing up today!
To join DELPHI:
1. Dial 617-576-0862 with any terminal or PC and modem (at 2400 bps, dial 576-2981).
2. At the Username prompt, type JOIN DELPHI.
3. At the Password prompt enter ANALOG.
For more information, call DELPHI Member Services at 1-800-544-4005, or at 617-491-3393 from within Massachusetts or from outside the U.S.
DELPHI is a service of General Videotex Corporation of Cambridge, Massachusetts.