Tips 'N' TRicks
PSI RAMdisk Utility
It should go without saying that readers shouldn't try the PSI RAMdisk formatter (from the AC June Software Disk) unless you have a machine with expanded RAM in stalled. The PSI guys apparently didn't consider the possibility that anyone would try to use the thing on a stock 64K machine. However, your Managing Editor is dumb enough to try anything. Sure enough, if you include the PSI RAMdisk formatter in a SpartaDOS batch file on a non-upgraded machine, your batch file will cease execution when the PSI discovers you don't have any extra RAM for it to format. The PSI message area on your screen will say "RAM-Disk size: 0k", and your keyboard and screen cursor will be dead. You can escape by just hitting RESET, which will dump you into the Sparta command processor.
AtariWriter-80 Auxiliary Menu
It would seem Managing Editors make pretty fair beta-testers. Or perhaps, Alchemists are just extraordinarily prone to stepping in the poo. Whatever, Jeff McWilliams' AtariWriter-80 Auxiliary Menu (see the August AC for his article) which is included on this month's Software Disk, contains a bug. The bug is subtle but highly annoying. When you leave ATW-80 and use Jeffs utility to view the DIRectory of any floppy or RAM-disk, if you return to ATW-80 you'll find your text file corrupted (some will be missing and the rest scrambled, even if your text is all contained within a single bank). The erasure/scrambling doesn't occur if you first perform a disk access operation (such as a LOAD or SAVE) from the AtariWriter-80 Main Menu before you boot up Jeff s Auxiliary Menu. While Jeff is puzzling how to fix this little snafu, our advice is to first SAVE your text to a floppy or RAMdisk from ATW-80 before you boot the Auxiliary Menu. Score one for Murphy.
Classic Atari In South America
From Daniel Carrodano in Roquebrune, France, comes an interesting note for Spanish-speaking Atarians. You might want to check out a nifty 40-page monthly magazine published in Santiago, Chile called STAK Atari whose content appears to be about 60% 8-bit. The language of the magazine is Spanish. Send a postcard to: REVISTA STAK ATARI, Casilla 51552 STGO 1, Correo Central, Santiago de Chile, CHILE for more information. Subscriptions are US$50 for the magazine only or US$70 for magazine + disk (airmail prices). Editor Rodrigo Gomez cautions that STAK Atari doesn't accept checks or credit cards and advises foreign subscribers to send cash hidden inside a 5-1/4" disk jacket and shipped like an ordinary magnetic disk.
130XE Keyboard Fix
Someone (the many papers in this letter got separated in our office and weren't marked with the sender's name) sent in some mod instructions by Alan Haskel of SPACE (modified by John Nagy?) which claims to fix the occasionally faulty keyboard response of the 130XE, which Alan claims is due to a design flaw that permits insufficient current to flow when a console key is pressed. The fix consists of soldering three 3000-ohm resistors from pins 21, 22, and 23 all to pin 3 (GND) on the keyboard connector J8 on the XE motherboard. Pins are numbered by orienting the bare motherboard so the keyboard connector is in the lower right corner: Pin #1 is on the left. The resistors are installed on the foil side of the board. AC makes no warranties as to either the necessity or validity of this mod, but if you try it and observe improvements in keyboard response, please let us know!
From Roger Cole in Newark, Delaware comes a handy tip for owners of the Atari XMM801 dot-matrix printer. A Mannesman Tally Spirit 80 ribbon fits perfectly and costs about 1/3 of what Roger had to pay Atari for the same thing. Thanks for that one, Roger! Here at AC we're strong believers in second-sourcing replacement items for our equipment. And if you can save money at the same time, that's icing on the cake!
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!