NEWS ROUNdUp: HAppENiNGS IN ThE 8-BiT WORld
BEN POEhlANd MANAGiNG EdiTOR
CompuServe Lowers Rates
According to Ron Luks, Atari Forum Manager on CompuServe, beginning March 1993 CIS offers its subscribers a Standard Pricing Plan under which members pay a flat monthly fee of $8.95 for unlimited connect-time use of 36 basic services such as travel, shopping, investment, and games. When using CompuServe's other services, members will pay an hourly charge of $8 for 1200 or 2400 baud access, and $16 for 9600 baud access. Previously, members paid a monthly fee of $7.95 and hourly charges of $12.80 and $22.80 for access at 1200/2400 and 9600 baud, respectively. Ron notes that while this new BASIC SERVICES plan isn't mandatory for members, the lower rates certainly make it more advantageous for most users to switch to the new pricing structure. Ron further related that the new fee schedule includes up to 60 3-page emails/month for free with no time of day restrictions and a small additional charge for overage. CompuServe users can type GO CHOICES for details on the new fee structure, or contact Ron Luks if you have questions.
AC applauds this effort by CIS to make its fees more competitive with other commercial networks such as the General Electric News and Information Exchange (GEnie). GEnie also has a flat-rate fee schedule of $4.95/month with unlimited use of certain services such as e-mail at certain times of the day. However, a variety of restrictions apply to the services of both networks, and we urge users to explore fees in detail and to shop around, as fees are now very competitive but also a bit complicated. CompuServe has long been noted as "the place to be" for Atari 8-bitters. AC's Technical Consultant, Bob Puff (who also runs Computer Software Services) is an Atari Forum sysop on CIS, and Don LeBow-another notable on CIS-serves as one of our Correspondents.
Although GEnie has potentially greater resourcesespecially in the form of its large library of downloadable 8-bit files-the Atari management there has shown no interest in the revival movement represented by this magazine and has generally allowed things in the ATARI8 area to decay. Recently, a group of 8-bit users on GEnie attracted the attention of Darlah Potechin with proposals to revive the 8-bit area there and perhaps take on some new sysops. With this latest aggressive fee reduction by CIS, we at A Care observing the proceedings on both networks with keen interest.
Good-Bye, Innovative Concepts
AC regrets to report several documented cases of ripoffs perpetuated by Innovative Concepts of Warren, Michigan. Part of the complaints we received indicated that proprietor Mark Elliot appeared to be hiding behind an answering machine and not returning calls. Our Managing Editor left a message on the IC answering machine and received similar treatment.
As nearly as we can tell, Innovative Concepts appears to have quietly slipped its moorings around August of 1992-yet another casualty of the dreadful Summer of '92 which snuffed out so many Atari vendors and developers and took a toll on magazines as well. Unfortunately, its proprietor failed to announce that fact to the community and apparently in some instances continued to accept money for services and merchandise that it never delivered. Unless this magazine receives some notice from Innovative Concepts indicating their Atari 8-bit business is once again up and running, we must regrettably advise readers to refrain from placing orders with IC. Really a shame, this company used to sell some really great stuff for the 8-bit.
TEXTPRO, Where Art Thou?
Afficionados of Ron Ritchie's TextPro wordprocessor have been waiting for some time for him to release the latest version, TextPro 5.0. Word is that beta-testing of 5.0 is complete and the only present obstacle to final distribution is that the manual is being re-written. We're hoping the long wait will be over soon!
RT-8 Cart Clone Delayed
In the Dec. '92 issue of AC, Brad Koda of Best Electronics announced in an ad a replacement for ICD's discontinued Real-Time8 clock cartridge. There is a pent-up demand for this product, especially among BBS sysops who will practically kill you for one. We had hoped to see this product launched in early 1993, but according to Brad Koda there's a minor snag delaying its introduction. Apparently the firmware for the cart contains a bug that causes the clock to lose time, like several minutes a week. Software development for the new cart is being done in England. In late February Brad travelled to England, where-among other things-we hope he got his timepiece fixed. An RT-8 cart clone is a welcome product; we predict it will sell briskly once it reaches the market.