Tips 'N' TRicksXDM-121 Ribbons: From Classic enthusiast Lee Barnes comes comes a tip that Atari XDM-121 owners can buy new, re-inkable fabric ribbons locally from large office or computer supply stores for around $5 by asking for an Olivetti ET-121 ribbon. The ET in ET-121 stands for Electric Typewriter. You'll get a Silvereed #5503 or equivalent generic ribbon cartridge. If you ask for an Atari XDM-121 ribbon all you get is a dumb look.
Classic Atari Classic: Next time you've got your XL or XE fired up, drop into the OS self-test routines (by typing BYE from BASIC), and run the audio self-test routines. You'll see the famliar 6-note theme appear on your screen, and of course you'll hear the music if you're using a monitor with sound, an external speaker, or the sound turned up on your TV. Interesting little tune, no? It's the Promenade theme from Russian composer Modest Moussorgsky's original piano work, "Pictures At An Exhibition", composed exactly 119 years ago this month (June 1874). A true touch of the Classics in your Classic Atari. Next time your IBM friends sneer at your worthless toy, just play the self-test for them, then ask if their barbarous clone can do that.
AtariWriter-80 Bugs: Oh no, not again! A few more in the accumulating list of ATW-80 aberrations; these are annoying but harmless. We're guessing all are due to flakiness in ATW-80's XEP-80 interface code. Sometimes while typing a line, the cursor will jump down into the line below while you're in the middle of the screen. Hit ESCcape, then E(dit), the cursor comes back where it belongs when the screen is re-written. When you're typing a line near the bottom of the screen, the very bottom line may display gibberish upon typinf a return. The gibberish frequently consists of inverse @ symbols. It goes away when you re-write the screen using the ESCape-E(dit) sequence described above. Sometimes when you hit ESCape to get back to the main ATW-80 menu, you'll find the menu selections have suddenly all shifted over to the right by 1/2" or so. No problem, just hit RESET. The shifted menu comes back fine when the screen is re-written, and any text you have in memory will still be there after the reset.
SpartaDOS-X Users: Indications are that the SDX ROMcart may be more susceptible to poor contacts in the cartridge port than previously suspected, and is especially critical for hard drive users. If your SDX cart appears unaccountably flaky, or your hard drive running under SDX seems to "lose track" of itself, check the gold-plated foil fingers on the ROMcart's edge connector. Even if they look clean and shiny, they could still bear a thin layer of oxidation that's just enough to create rectifying effects or add stray capacitance to the signal carriers. One of those soft pink rubber pencil erasers (Eberhard Faber "Pink Pearl" #101 or Dixon "Pink Carnation" #893) available from a dimestore or office supply store works best for lightly scrubbing the contacts without harm to the ultrathin gold plating. The eraser on an ordinary pencil is not recommended. Try it, you'll probably be amazed how much nasty black stuff comes off on the eraser, and the foil contacts will probably turn from yellow to almost white. After brushing away any rubber particles, you'll enjoy considerably more reliable performance from SDX. We're even beginning to suspect that all products packaged in ICD ROMcarts (SDX, Express!, Diamond GOS, etc.) may be susceptible to this phenomenon.
We want bugs! If you have a hot tip on hardware/software usage or an undocumented bug in a program, we want to hear about it!