TRS-80 strings... (column) Stephen B. Gray.
Previewing reel fifty-three of the epic film, "The Machine From Fort Worth," we see it includes scenes featuring the new PC-4 Pocket Computer, the SuperScripsit word processing program, a newsletter for lawyers who use the TRS-80, and a short music program for the Color Computer. PC-4 Pocket Computer
Earlier this year Radio Shack introduced its lowest-cost Pocket Computer, the PC-4, at $69.95, to replace the PC-1.
The PC-4 (Figure 1), which seems to be a relabeled Casio PB-100, thus replaces a relabeled Sharp PC-1211. It has the same QWERTY keyboard plus numeric keypad, and is 6-1/2" long, only a trifle shorter than the PC-1, but is about half as thick, only 3/8".
The PC-4 displays 12 LCD characters at a time, half as many as the PC-1. Math functions on the PC-4 include trig and inverse trig, radians or gradians, log, exponent, square root, angular conversions, and absolute values.
An optional user-installable 1K RAM memory module is $19.95, for expanding the PC-4's 544-step, 26-variable-memory RAM to up to a maximum of 1568 possible steps or up to 222 variable memories.
A $39.95 cassette interface permits storing and loading programs at 300 baud using an optional cassette recorder. A PC-4 printer, at $79.95, prints 20 characters per line using an electro-thermal 5 by 7 dot matrix. The PC-4, printer and cassette interface plug together to form a unit 1-7/16" by 6-3/4" by 7", which fits into a $7.95 padded vinyl carrying case with zipper opening.
Although Sharp has marketed their PC-1211 separately, along with the PC-1500, which is the same as Radio Shack's PC-2, the PB-100 will not be sold with the Casio name nor through Casio dealers. Word Processing If you use a typewriter several times a week, or more, you should look into Radio Shack's word processing software. You can save a great deal of time and trouble, especially with form letters.
If you are a writer, you can avoid most of the problems of changes and corrections. You make them all on the screen and when the final version is ready, you can then print it out for the first (and last) time, unless intermediate versions are required. No more erasing, strikeovers, or messy correcting fluids.
Typing on a word processor is much faster than using a typewriter, because you don't have to worry about making mistakes (unless you are a very poor typist). You can correct the mistakes later, add or delete words and sentences, move paragraphs around, and much more.
Radio Shack offers two word processing programs on disk for the Models III and I: the "affordable" Scripsit at $99.95; and the advanced $199 SuperScripsit, introduced last fall. There is also Scripsit for the Model II and 12 ($399), the Color Computer ($39.95 on cassette, $59.95 on disk), and on cassette for the Model III o rI, for $39.95. Scripsit
If your word processing needs are simple, you can do a great deal with Scripsit (June 1980, p. 166). I have been using the "affordable" version on a Model III since March, 1982, for these columns and the book reviews. Now I find it very difficult to go back to a typewriter, after having enjoyed the considerable advantages of word processing.
Using Scripsit, you can also right-justify text, center lines, hyphenate words at the end of lines, set tabs, number pages automatically, print headers and footers automatically, and that's only part of it.
With Global Replace, you can replace every occurrence of a word with another word, such as changing all "Democrat" references to "Republican." With just a couple of keystrokes, you can change the width of the text displayed on the screen, which takes place before you can take your finger off the ENTER key. SuperScripsit
For some users, SuperScripsit is the way to go, because of its many, many advanced document and printing features. It can handle true proportionally-spaced printing. And because it uses control codes embedded in the text, it can switch back and forth from one specification to another, such as changing line-spacing (including half spaces) as often as you wish.
SuperScripsit supports underlining, double underlining, boldface, superscripts and subscripts, and multiple-column printing, if you have the right printer. Documents up to 30,000 words long can be saved on a Model III disk. The SuperScripsit Package
For $199, you get a training program of eight lessons on audio cassette, with an accompanying "Figures Book" text, plus a 158-page reference manual, SuperScripsit and TRSDOS on disk, a short summary of commands on a fold-out reference card, and Proofread disks for checking spelling with the $149 Scripsit Selling Dictionary.
The audio cassettes provide a self-paced training course, with detailed, step-by-step instructions, and assume you have never even seen a TRS-80 Model III before. The narrator on the tapes refers often to the figures, which may recap an instruction you have just practiced, list the steps for entering an instruction, provide exercises to use during the lessons, illustrate the ideas being discussed, or provide a review at the end of a lesson.
The tape lessons take quite a while to use, because every now and then you are asked to turn off the recorder and either read some text, or do a typing assignment. It is possible to learn SuperScripsit from the reference manual alone, just as it is possible to build a Heathkit television set without following the manual, but the tapes are highly recommended. May I See A Manu Please?
To use Scripsit, you are advised to put self-sticking decals on 17 keys on your keyboard, so you'll know which keys to press for inserting, deleting, exchanging, repeating, starting a block, tabbing, etc.
SuperScripsit eliminates the decals by using menus, which make everything much easier. The first menu (Figure 2) offers seven choices.
If you press the letter O, you get a second menu (Figure 3).
After you have identified and described your document in the first four lines, you can change the various options or leave them at their default values. After you lock in the options by pressing ENTER, the old document comes to the screen, or you are ready to create a new one.
The scree (Figure 4) shows a cursor at top left, and a tab line and status line at the bottom.
As the cursor moves along the typing line, a "ghost" cursor moves along the tab line, to let you know how close you are to a margin (left and right parentheses), a tab (+), or the indent tab (I).
The lower line is the status line, which displays the document name (PAGE) and tells you which page and line you are on, the horizontal cursor position in inches, the pitch at which the document will be printed, and the linespacing. Added Niceties
The authors of SuperScripsit have added a great many sophisticated details that will be appreciated by anybody who has done a fair amount of word processing.
Some of these features have been borrowed from dedicated word processing machines.
Once you start preparing text, you have 21 cursor movements available. In addition to the usual four (controlled by the four arrow keys), you can move the cursor to the end or beginning of the document, to the left or right margin, to the next tab, to the next (or previous) word, paragraph, page, or video page, or to a header or footer page, line number, or specific page.
Any time you are not sure what you are doing, just type #H and you get assistance in the form of seven Help screens that provide a complete list of commands and functions.
With "align tabbing," SuperScripsit commands and functions.
With "align tabbing," SuperScripsit automatically lines up, for example, decimal points in a column of prices.
Deletions are performed fast and neatly. Just hold down @ and D, and the characters to the right of the cursor move left and disappear when they get to the cursor.
To move a block of text, SuperScripsit writes it to disk, then puts it where you have positioned the cursor. Using the same technique, you can copy a block to make it appear in more than one place.
A paragraph can be "frozen" so it can't be changed in any manner. Fancy Printing
For me, some of the most attractive features of SuperScripsit are the advanced printing features. When I prepare this column to send it to Morris Plains, I've had to mark the text to indicate which words are in boldface, which in italic, etc.
With SuperScripsit, I just insert print-control codes in the text, and the codes take care of all that.
Before and after text you want to print bold, just press CLEAR and +. The printer automatically overprints each character three times.
To underline (for italics), just press CLEAR and -, and the printer backs up after printing each character and underlines it. For double-underlining, use CLEAR= (this feature is available only on the Daisy Wheel II printer).
Superscripts and subscripts are just as simple. For superscripts, press CLEAR and.sup.*, and the printer will move the paper down half a line and print until a CLEAR and a period are encountered. Subscripts are handled in just the opposite fashion: CLEAR. makes the printer move the paper up half a line and print until CLEAR.sup.* is reached. Thus you can easily print technical expressions that would otherwise have to be done by hand:
Try this on for size:
x=C.sup.2.(W.sub.o.*L.sup.23./(-T.sup.x.sub.r.-V1)*W.sub.o3.) Advanced Features
The first five audio-cassette lessons cover the essentials of Startup, Basic Document Preparation, Working With Blocks and Pages, Printing, and Finishing and File Management. In the course of these lessons, you prepare several documents, and thus learn while doing.
Lesson Six gets into saving and recalling tab lines (for typing documents with complicated format requirements, such as outlines, you can save up to 11 tab lines), and global changes; you can search an entire document for a word or phrase, and replace or delete it.
Lesson Seven teaches how to program user keys and prepare form letters. The ten number keys are user-programmable in SuperScripsit; each can recall up to 127 characters so that frequently used words or phrases can be displayed with a single keystroke.
To prepare form letters, you type a master document that contains the standard text, with code names where variables are to be inserted. Then type a variables document containing the list of codes and the variables (such as addresses and product names) for each letter. Merge the two documents and print one letter for each group of variables.
Lesson Eight, the last, on Advanced Utilities, shows how to write your own defaults for the open Document options, how to edit user keys once they have been programmed, and introduces the reference manual. Scripsit and SuperScripsit
Suppose you already have Scripsit, which saves files in ASCII code.
Can you use your Scripsit files with SuperScripsit, which has its own file format? Yes; just use the ASCII Text Conversion Utility to change your Scripsit files from ASCII to SuperScripsit format. You can use the same utility if you want to convert a SuperScripsit file to Scripsit ASCII. The Catch
As the Figures book puts it, "Although you can print with a printer other than the Daisy Wheel II, most other printers are not equipped to handle many of SuperScripsit's advanced features, such as proportional spacing and double-underscore."
SuperScripsit also has drivers for Line Printers IV and VIII, and a serial (RS-232) printer; you have to specify which in the Open Document Options. If you have a non-Radio Shack printer, the reference manual says "you may need to write your own printer driver.
If your printer is a serial printer, you can use the TRSDOS utility SETCOM to configure the serial port."
As one of the very helpful people in a Radio Shack Computer Center put it, Scripsit is "useful as a full-screen editor for Basic programs, because it saves things directly as ASCII files. Using SuperScripsit, you have to convert back and forth."
The use SuperScripsit on the Model I, you need two disk drives. Although Model III floppy disks hold up to 170,000 characters, the Model I floppies hold only 76,000.
So on the Model I, SuperScripsit itself takes up an entire disk, and there is no room for documents. You need one drive for the program floppy, and at least one for the documents. You also need 48K of memory for the I or III.
Although SuperScripsit and the Model III support up to four disk drives, you can use the program with only one drive. To use the Proofread option with the Scipsit Dictionary, you must have three disk drives.
However, SuperScripsit has so many highly useful features that once you have used it a while, you may not want to go back to Scripsit. And if you have used only a typewriter before, you certainly won't want to go back to that. Lawyer's Newsletter
"The Lawyer's Microcomputer" is a 16-page publication subtitled, "A Newsletter for Laywers Using the TRS-80." A recent issue devotes ten pages to three major articles, on "Creating a Calendar Control System with Profile Plus," "Using WordStar, DataStar, SuperSort and CP/M," and "Using Scripsit's Merge Feature."
The remainder of the issue contains a Radio Shack news release on enhancements for Profile Plus, a list of 53 "Software Companies of Interest to Lawyers," an announcement of a "National Conference for Lawyers Using Radio Shack Computers" (held this last May in Forth Worth), a short tutorial on how to back up a data disk that doesn't contain an operating system, and "Bits and Bytes," short items about various publications and software products.
The newsletter is well written, although the computerized text looks a litle odd, having been right-justified by the insertion of more space between letters than you are likely to see elsewhere. However, it is quite neat, and does eliminate end-of-line hyphens (there is only one in the whole issue).
It is a publication that computer-toting lawyers of the TRS-80 may wnat to check out. It's from R.P.W. Publishing Corp., Box 1046, Lexington, SC 29072, telephone (803) 359-9941. A year's subscription, presumably for 12 issues, its $28 (U.S.); $37 (Canada); $43 (foreign). Short Program #40: CoCo Piano
Back in May 1982 (p. 207) there was a short program that lets you play the Color Computer with a joystick, with the horizonal movement controlling pitch, and vertical movement controlling tone duration.
John Crager of West Islip, NY sent a music program for the Color Computer that is a little different:
"I wrote this Short Program for my Radio Shack Extended Basic Color Computer. You use the numbers 1-9 for the tones, where 1 is the lowest and 9 is the highest, and use your right joystick for the duration, where the far left is a whole note and the far right is a 64th note.
"With some dexterity (enough to use the joystick in the left hand, and the right hand on the keyboard), you can use it as an electronic piano." 10 A$=INKEY$ 20 IF A$"" THEN 10 30 IF ASC(A$)<49 OR ASC(A$)>57
THEN 10 40 L=JOYSTK(0)+1 50 PLAY "L" + STR$(L) 60 PLAY A$ 70 COTO 10
"You can add the following lines 5, 15, 17 and 45 and use the spacebar to change octaves." 5 O=1 15 IF A$= " " THEN O=O+1 17 IF O=6 THEN O=1 45 PLAY "O" + STR$(O)
"I would also like to say that even though the Color Computer is fairly new, I have found very interesting little programs in the TRS-80 Strings dept., and I have found it easy to decipher the other programs in the magazine."
The joystick output isn't linear, so the change from whole note to 64th note isn't as gradual as you might like. Also, once you press a key while the joystick is at the far left, you get the maximum duration, even if you move the joystick to the far right immediately afterward.
Lines 10-30 ignore all keyboard input except numbers 1-9. Line 40 adds JOYST(0), the value of the horizontal coordinate of the joystick (which ranges from 0 to 63), to the Lnumber value for a whole noe. Thus L ranges from 1 to 64, or from a whole note to a 64th note. To examine the JOYSTK(0) range, run this: 100 PRINT JOYSTK(0); 110 GOTO 100 and you'll see how much joystick movement there is between 0 and 1, and how very little between 62 and 63. This seems logarithmic rather than linear; the latter might be preferred for this particular application.
Lines 50-60 play a note whose duration is controlled by the position of hte joystick, using the required L for note length and an Lnumber provided by STR$(L), and whose pitch is controlled by a keyboard number from 1 to 9, using A$.
Line 5 sets the pitch at octave 1. Line 15 moves the pitch up an octave if a space is keyboarded. If the pitch is at its highest range (octave 5), line 17 returns it to octave 1 if the spacebar is pressed. Line 45 contains the obligatory 0 plus the octave cvalue.
Note that STR$ is required for L and 0 because PLAY is a string function. Note also that there is a space between the quotation marks in line 15; remove the space and you get some very peculiar results. Can you figure out why?