TRS-80 strings. (column) Stephen B. Gray.
At the fifty-sixth step on the TRS-80 stairway to personal computing, we take a quick look at the MC-10 Color Computer, seven PC-1 Pocket Computer programs from Radio Shack, the Clean Slate word processor from Sams, the QWERTY 3.0 word processor from ScreenPlay and a short program for computing the day of the week. A Little Brother The TRS-80 MC-10, introduced in May, is also known as the TRS-80 Micro Color Computer because it takes up only about as much space as a 700-page novel, or about a sixth the space of the Color Computer. It weighs only 29.5 ounces (Figure 1).
The MC-10, which may come to be called the MiCoCo (or possibly the MicroCo) (Not if we can help it! --Ed.), doesn't replace the Color Computer, but supplements it. Priced at $119.95, the MC-10 is designed to compete with low-cost computers such as the Timex/Sinclair, and is "aimed primarly at first-time computer buyers," as the press release puts it. See the review elsewhere in this issue. Seven PC-1 Packages
Radio Shack sent me seven cassette program packages for the PC-1 Pocket Computer. Four are useful (Statistical Analysis, Engineering Math II, III, and IV); one might help you make a few dollars at the track (Horse Race Analyst); one might be useful on the links (Golf Scoring); and one has rather limited applications (Calendar).
All seven packages include imprinted plastic keyboard overlays, and all the programs use prompts to simplify and speed up operations. Calendar
For $19.95 you get four Calendar programs "to solve date-related problems." An overlay, which fits over the bottom left half of the keyboard, simplifies two of the programs.
With Cal I, you can enter any date, expressed as MM.DDYYYY, from 1900 to 2100, and the program first converts it to "Julian date," which here means the number of days from a date back in 4000 B.C. This is then easily converted by Cal I into the day of the year (February 23, 1982 is the 54th day of the year), how many days remain in the year (311), and which day of the week it is (Tuesday).
You can also enter a Julian date or day of the year and make any conversion you choose. Cal I also converts from Gregorian years to Chinese years, and vice versa, with the help of a chart. If you have the chart, however, you don't really need the conversion program. Most inscrutable.
Cal II relates to holidays. It tells you on which day Easter fell in 1982 (April 11) and lists the dates of 17 holidays for any given year, including President's Day.
Cal III relates dates to days of the week. It finds the number of days from one given date to another, the number of times a given day of the week occurs between two dates, the years in which a given date falls on a given weekday, and performs three more similar calculations.
Cal IV provides the dates of the new and full moon for a given month.
Although most of us have little or no use for such date programs, they could be of help in some financial and legal instances, for interest, contracts, and so forth. Golf Scoring
The full name of this $14.95 package is Golf Scoring & Handicapping; it consists of four programs and an overlay.
Play "keeps track of your party's score and pars for each hole while you are actually on the course," the manual says. It keeps score for up to four players over as many as 18 holes. You can review scores for any hole, make corrections, and save data for an entire game on tape.
Score uses the data saved on tape from Play to print a complete scorecard for each game.
Stroke uses data from Play to figure the USGA stroke-controlled score for any player and game.
HDICAP figures your official USGA handicap, using data on your past performance stored on tape.
So you take your PC-1 to the clubhouse, plug in the printer/cassette interface and a tape-cassette recorder, and load Play (you could even do this earlier, at home). Enter the players' names and handicaps, then take the PC-1 around the course as you play, entering hole numbers and scores.
Back at the clubhouse, or later at home, you save the game data on tape. Or if you have everything with you, you can use Score to print out a scorecard right in the clubhouse to show the gang at the bar what a great game you played. Horse Race Analyst
The subtitle of this $19.95 package is "Using the 5/10 System," which isn't explained in the manual. The overlay uses all 19 of the keys over which it fits, all 26 alphabetic keys are required for entering variables.
The Daily Racing Form past-performance data for each horse (distance, time, track condition, finish position, and so on) are entered, after which the PC-1 displays a computed score. The horse with the highest Horse Score in a race is the predicted winner, according to the manual. It adds, "We can't guarantee that this system will enable you to choose a winner. As with all systems, none are perfect." If it were, of course, the programmer would be at the track, rather than writing 5/10.
The manual provides information on how to improve predictions: one suggestion is to "eliminate horses whose finish positions in the last two races total more than 16 lengths behind." Engineering Math II
This package, which contains three programs and two overlays, is $14.95.
Vector performs all common vector operations in 3D, in both Cartesian and polar coordinates. Chain operations are allowed, and the mode may be changed between polar and rectangular at any point during program execution.
Complex performs all common operations on complex numbers, including sines, cosines, arc sines, and arc cosines. Chain operations are allowed.
ADVMATH provides 24 common trig functions in degrees or radians, including arc hyperbolic cosecant. It also provides logs to any base and an exponentiation function that raises negative numbers to positive or integral negative powers. Engineering Math III
This $10.95 package contains two programs and one overlay.
SIMEQ solves systems of up to nine linear equations for all unknowns. It can also complete a Gaussian reduction of matrices from 2-by-2 to 9-by-9.
PCALC solves common polynomial functions and calculus solutions for polynomials to the ninth order. It also evaluates the polynomial at any point, calculates an exact derivative at any point, calculates an exact integral between any two points, and searches for Newtonian roots. Engineering Math IV
For $7.95 you get one program and an overlay. TRIANG provides solutions for the three common triangles and can also solve from three Cartesian coordinates. TRIANG provides for angles in degrees, radians or grads, calculates areas, and tests for equilateral, right, isosceles, obtuse, and scalene properties. Statistical Analysis
A data-analysis package of six programs and three double-sided overlays costs a modest $24.95.
The six programs are Descriptive Statistics, Correlation and Regression, Analysis of Variants, Chi Square Analysis, Distributions (normal, t, F, X.sup.2.), and Multiple Regression.
Descriptive Statistics provides an overall picture of the data set, which can contain up to 130 values. Output from this program includes sample statistics (sample size, mean, sum, sum of squares, variance, and standard deviation) and unbiased estimates of population parameters (variance, standard deviation, and standard error of the mean). Clean Slate
The two previous columns described the Master Directory II and Superkeys programs from Howard W. Sams & Co. Let's make it a trio with a look at Clean Slate.
Described by Sams as "more than a word processor," Clean Slate requires a Model I/III/4 with 32K of RAM, one disk drive, and a parallel or serial printer.
Before using Clean Slate, you enter configuration data such as which DOS you are using, whether your printer executes a backspace (most dot-matrix printers will not), and communications parameters such as the length of response delay (if you have the RS-232 interface). You do all this only once.
Then you enter a document name and the number of the disk drive that contains the old text or where you want to save the new one.
A few of the Clean Slate commands are like those of Scripsit: D for delete, I for insert, P for print. However, it is page-oriented, so the up and down arrows will move to the previous or next page on the display. There are many more editing commands, some of which may be unique, such as CLEAR/E to split a line in two at the cursor, CLEAR/C to center the current line, and so forth.
Clean Slate has many words processing functions not found in Scripsit, such as Ruler Mode (displays a ruler with a scale taken from the printer pitch value you entered), Justify Line (adds spaces to expand a single line to the right margin position), Vertical Tab Set, Word Count, and several dozen more.
Forms can be constructed by building a minimal portion with hyphens (for the horizontal lines) and exclamation marks (for the verticals), then duplicating it to assemble a much larger blank form.
The printing capability includes underlining, boldface, backspacing, page numbers, printing some pages but not others, headers and footers, and many others.
Using the APPEND function, you can load basic programs, assembler source files, Fortran, and other compiler source codes into a Clean Slate document. Personalized form letters can be created by using APPEND to merge the form letter with a list of names and addresses.
One of the most powerful commands in Clean Slate is the Glossary function, which permits you to store any sequence of keystrokes under an ID name, and then call it up anytime you need the phrase in the text. Sequences of commands can also be stored using Glossary, so you can, for example, right justify a whole page with Justify, instead of a single line.
Like a little more? The Parameter Change function lets you change any or all of 20 parameters and system limits, such as cursor blink rate, printer pitch, linefeed count, printer status mask, and so forth. The cursor moves rather slowly, but that too can be changed from its preset value by simply varying the Repeat Rate, to the point that the cursor zips across the screen so fast you may want to slow it down.
If this isn't enough for you, Clean Slate also has a Terminal Communications Mode, with all the capabilities of full and half duplex, batch send, parity check, and so on.
Clean Slate works with TRSDOS, NEWDOS, VTOS, LDOS, DOS PLUS, TDOS, and several others but not Microdos.
Although the manual isn't written for beginners in computers or word processing, its 109 pages are crammed with detail. Before doing much hands-on stuff it is best to read the entire manual to get an overall picture of the large variety of features available.
Clean Slate doesn't have the tutorial audio tapes that come with Scripsit and SuperScripsit, but it is only $79.95. It is highly recommended for a sophisticated word processing package that has a raft of extras. Med Systems Becomes ScreenPlay
One of the more ingenious software houses, Med Systems Software, changed its name to SCreenPlay this spring and dropped all but one of its utilities, educational programs, and other such software, to concentrate on games.
Most of the games are for the Model I/III/4 TRS-80; several are for the TRS-80 Color Computer and for the Apple, atari, and IBM PC. The TRS-80 Model I/III/4 games include 3D adventures (with perspective) such as Asylum, 2D adventures such as Warriors Of Ras, and several Jyym Pearson epics (The Institute, Lucifer's Realm, and so forth), and arcade games such as Laser Defense. Color Computer games include Invader's Revenge, Phantom Slayer, and Monkey Kong. Write for the latest catalog, which includes T-shirts imprinted with logos from some of the games.
Gone are the excellent GRBasic, a graphics utility that adds a set of commands to Basic that lets you produce graphics with machine language speed directly from Basic, and the clever Better Text, which generates two sizes of large characters, permits you to create your own characters, and provides 15 commands for creating outstanding display screens with a minimum of programming effort. ScreenPlay's QWERTY
The only non-game program still available from ScreenPlay is the QWERTY 3.0 word-processing program, which is an extensive patch for Scripsit. First you copy QWERTY 3.0 onto a TRSDOS or NEWDOS disk that already contains Scripsit; this requires two disk drives. Two versions of the program are supplied, for 32K and 48K machines.
QWERTY 3.0 is "aimed at using the proportional style of print as the main style of its texts, and is aimed at the production of technical reports," according to the manual. The program automatically prints proportionally, adds 75 new symbols (including upper-and lowercase Greek letters, math symbols, and so forth), adds subscripts or superscripts to any character, under lines, prints boldface, adds decorative borders to text, prints in two or three columns per page, indicates where pages will end without printing the text, and provides other conveniences not found even in Radio Shack's SuperScripsit (July 1983, p. 290).
The 75 new symbols are created by using combinations of backspacing, various linefeeds, and condensed and expanded styles of print. For example, an infinity sign is created by printing two lowercase letter o's close together. A lowercase Greek mu is made up of a lowercase u and a doubly overprinted exclamation mark.
The manual provides a great deal of information, but is difficult to use for reference. although there is an index, the chapters aren't divided into sections, so you often have to scan a whole page to find what you want. This is a small point, however, in a most ingenious patch to Scripsit that has WP uses far beyond the proportional printing of technical reports.
QWERTY 3.0 is $74.95 for the Lineprinter IV and the Centronics 737 or 739. The Daisy version, for the Radio Shack Daisy Wheel II printer, is the same price and adds more than 100 new symbols. For cautious buyers, the 73-page QWERTY 3.0 manual or the 110-page Daisy manual is $10, when is credited toward the purchase price of the software. Short Program #43: Day of Week
From Charleston, SC, Leonard Zucker writes:
"I couldn't let go unchallenged Max Seim's claim (January 1983, p. 337) to the shortest Basic program to compute day-of-week. Here is a one-liner that tells you not only the day of the week of two given dates, but also the number of days between the dates. Furthermore, the program is accurate for dates from March 1, 1900 to February 28, 2100. The algorithm used is based on a program for the Hewlett-Packard 97 calculator included with its applications pack.
"I use this algorithm, which computes the number of days (Z) since February 28, 1900, in all my programs requiring calendar calculations. An inverse function allows me to recover month, day, and year for a given value of Z."
The one-liner, rewritten to make it easier to read, appears in Listing 1.
As a check, the number of days between March 1, 1900 and February 28, 2100 is 73048. Leonard also included a short program to demonstrate the use of his one-liner; mainly, it adds PRINT lines to make the RUN more easily understood.
The program computes the number of days after February 28, 1900, for each of the two dates, and then subtracts one from the other. For example, if you input 1,1,1983 and 1,1,1984, Z is computed as 30744 and X as 30379. The difference is 365.
Can you figure out the details of how Leonard's "one-liner" works? The 365.25 in line 140 is, of course, the number of days in each year of a four-year cycle. But what relationship does 30.6001 have to the number of days in a month? And if the actual number of days between 3,1,1900 and 1,1,1983 is 30256, why does the program come up with 30379 or 123 more days than the actual count?
Note: The program considers 1900, 2000, and 2100 as leap year, although only 2000 is; this is the reason for the accuracy limits.