COMPUTE/NET has something for everybody. (electronic bulletin board) (Column)
by Richard C. Leinecker
COMPUTE/NET is like COMPUTE magazine. It's chockfull of terrific information for a wide variety of folks. You can get software that'll help you diagnose your computer's troubles, release the artist in you, help your kids learn and have fun at the same time, teach you to program, and plenty more. Back issues of the magazine provide a comprehensive and valuable resource. On-line conferences with people in the computer field give you real insight into the decisions being made today that will affect you tomorrow. Fun contests are held where winners are awarded prizes. And there are stimulating conversations that you'll find it hard to stay away from.
You won't believe this month's featured software. It's a commercial-quality, arcade-style, educational game. But you don't have to tell your kids it's educational. They'll have so much fun playing it that they won't notice. It's called MathVoyager, and it homes math skills to a sharp edge.
At the start of the game, you'll find yourself in flight school. Selecting the right book lets you set the math problems the way you want them. First, set the operation to addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, or a random mixture of the four. Then, pick the type of numbers from a choice of whole, decimal, or mixed. And finally, select the difficulty level. Because it's so customizable, you'll find the game useful for third graders on up through ninth graders.
After flight school's over, you'll find yourself on the bridge of an interstellar starship. Your mission is to find home base before you run out of fuel, or you'll collide with a UFO with your shields down. You control the ship's functions by correctly answering the math problem that's on the console. You'll have to work fast, since there's a lot to do. Steering left, right, up, and down; firing; getting fuel; and watching the radar screen for hazards are among your duties. On the hard level the rearview control will become available, so you can shoot the aliens that sneak up behind you.
The graphics are great. They appear in CGA, EGA, VGA, Hercules, and Tandy 16-color graphics modes. The program requires 256K RAM for CGA and Hercules, and 384K RAM for EGA, VGA, and Tandy 16-color modes.
To find this program, log on to GEnie or America Online. Use the menus or type the keyword COMPUTE to get to the COMPUTE/NET area. Once in COMPUTE/NET, enter the software library (ot's called Files from COMPUTE on America Online). FInd the file called MVOYAGER.ZIP and download it. All you have to do then is use PKUNZIP to unpack it.
If you need to learn more about DOS, you're in luck. COMPUTE's Releasing the Power of DOS is online for you to download. Even an experienced user can be unaware of an important shortcut or feature. The fact is that DOS has many intricate facets, and the greater your understanding of them, the more you'll be able to increase your productivity and your ability to handle an emergency situation.
This book describes the internal operation of PCs and DOS, differentiates between the various versions of DOS, explains how information is stored on disks, reveals ways to unleash the power of DOS and your PC, shows how to use the various tools that are part of DOS, discusses the hidden features and appropriate uses of each DOS command, introduces you to public domain software enhancements, explains the various error messages you could encounter, spells out how to diagnose problems, shows how to configure DOS for different languages, discusses how DOS works in a network environment, and more. You'll find out how to use the often misunderstood advanced features of MS-DOS and PC-DOS. All versions currently in use, up through version 4, are included. Most importantly, you'll be presented with useful applications and techniques for speeding up your computer or overcoming limitations built into the system. You'll see many shortcuts and tricks that are part of DOS but are ordinarily hard to find or decipher.
The syntax or a valid command format for all DOS versions is given along with the meaning of any parameters or switches. Below this is a list of any messages that might appear onscreen when you use the command, with explanations of their meanings.
The text accompanying the command refernece provides the conceptual background for using the command, describes a variety of applications, and gives several examples of usage. Almost every DOS command has limitations, so alternative software solutions are also discussed. The author also tells about commercial and public domain programs that do a better job than related DOS commands.
If you have any questions or comments about COMPUTE/NET, you can write to me here at COMPUTE in Greensboro or send E-mail to me on GEnie, address RLEINECKER; America Online, screen name Rick CL; or CompuServe, user ID 75300,2104.