ST matters discussed in the Atari Users' Group SIG on Delphi.
by Andy Eddy
In the same manner that ST-Log is changing, the ANALOG/Atari SIG on Delphi has recently gone through some extensive changes. However, the new SYSOP (System Operator) line-up is filled with familiar names: Clayton Walnum (ANALOG4), Matthew Ratcliff (MATRAT), Charles Johnson (CFJ), Maurice Moly-neaux (MAURICEM), Charlie Bachand (BACHAND) and myself (ANALOG2). This crew is well versed in all facets of Atari lore and Delphi commands, so any problems can be sent to any of us in mail or forum.
The databases have also seen some rearranging recently. Among the changes that have been made:
- —The ST Programs section, which had previously been a catch-all for most any ST-compatible file, has had some of its entries moved to other new areas.
- —The new "Entertainment on the ST" area was added to house the wealth of public domain gameware that exists.
- —The category "DEGAS Pictures" has been renamed "Art on the ST," given the number of picture formats that exist and are used more frequently. Picture formats like Tiny and Spectrum are seeing more uploads than DEGAS. As well, homebrewed animations are showing up more frequently, due to the success of CAD 3-D and other animation packages. That variety brought about the more descriptive title.
In addition to these changes, more alterations are being discussed. For a while, the "Applications on the ST" category has suffered an identity crisis, with users not really sure what should go there. Its intended purpose was to hold demos of products and files associated with specific programs (such as spreadsheets and databases, for example). There is also talk of adding other categories, possibly relieving more of the weight that the "ST Programs" partition carries. All this will result in faster searches for desired files. We'll keep you informed of what transpires here, and if you have any suggestions, feel free to drop us a line.
To assist in the dissemination of pertinent information, we've set up a weekly time for Delphi enthusiasts to gather together. Each Tuesday night (at 10 p.m., Eastern time) you can go to the Conference area (type CO from the ANALOG prompt) and join in with your fellow Atari hobbyists and professionals. While this real-time klatch has only been in place for a few weeks (as of this writing), we experienced an increase in attendance and interest. It's a great way to learn about new products, have questions answered and just chat with others who share your brand of computer.
Through this column, we'll attempt to detail what takes place in the SIG of interest to ST owners. This will come in the form of summaries, noting what took place in the formal conferences that take place occasionally, placing certain special guests of the Atari developers' and manufacturers' community in the hot seat. In the past, these sessions have allowed the users to take part in their own press conference, asking questions to many of the vital components in the Atari world.
Similarly, the ongoing discussions that evolve in the forum will be mentioned. Recently, for example, a few of us took part in a discussion of piracy. I've got to tell you, the term "discussion" is a nice way to describe the thread (the term for a contiguous topic in the Forum). It started off reasonably calm, but shortly broke out into some really heated debate. Unfortunately, piracy is a subject that draws strong emotion. One side relayed that any piracy diminishes the brand (with much comparison to the Atari 8-bit line and its oft-times woeful existence) and is wrong; the other side mentioned that piracy is predominantly a by-product of poor marketing and poor software quality. I don't know that there will be a solid solution—none was evident after the topic petered out—but both sides agreed that something should be done and soon.
File these away for later
I'll also try to mention some of the better quality uploads that come down the pike. There's a ton of great software in the form of freeware or shareware (where the programmer asks for a minimal donation for his or her effort). One recent example is a program called MEGAMATIC.PRG. Written by ANALOG SIG regular, Lloyd Pulley (MADMODIFIER), Megamatic will provide a bunch of added features and utilities. Placed in your AUTO folder and activated at boot-up, this program lets you choose what it features: among these are memory checking, a choice of different DESKTOP.INF files (depending on what resolution you pick to start up in), a RAM-disk that is configurable to any size you want, a print spooler (which is a buffer that lets you continue what you are doing on the computer while a file is output on the printer) and a screen saver reminiscent of the 8-bit Atari's attract mode.
Megamatic is a well done, multifaceted utility that gives you a great deal of power and flexibility over its operation. By running the configuration program, you can tailor it to do just what you want and what you don't want. If you don't want to have the screen saver activated, you have that option; if you have a ST4, or memory upgraded ST, and want a large RAMdisk, you have that ability. It's all there for you.
To get to this shareware program, type DAT ST (which combines the commands DATABASE and ST PROGRAMS to get you to the desired area), then enter SEA MEGAMAT (short for SEARCH Megamatic) to get to the Megamatic description. To encourage satisfied users to donate (the author's request in a shareware program like this one), Pulley has another version that he will provide to those who do reward him for his labors. This version contains a few extra goodies above and beyond the one in the databases.
Hey, look me over...
Lastly, this column will help you become more familiar with what Delphi has to offer outside the ANALOG SIG. There is something for everyone here: travel service, news and sports coverage (through a connection with Associated Press), shopping services, as well as many more general and interest-specific areas.
One of the newer areas on Delphi—which opened to the public at the end of February—is Views on News. Run by Ellen Kaufman (ELLEN, Manager for the Micro Artists (MANIAC) SIG) and a number of other Delphi regulars, it is found off the News menu (type NEWS from the Main prompt, then VIEWS). This is mainly a forum for discussing current events—first entries have covered topics ranging from popular quotes, the presidential campaign and the recent woes of television evangelists. In addition, there are also some features (listed in the Views on News under the FEATURES menu, logically enough), the wildest of which is a column by Bob Fried (FRIED) called "Articles of Lasting Strangeness, which are frequently humorous and sometimes touching, always thought-provoking.
Another one is NOISE (News of Import Sent Electronically). Each day, it takes one of the lesser-known current event items and comments on it—such as the fellow who was thrown out of a Las Vegas casino for using a computer to keep track of the cards that went by while he was playing Blackjack. The computer would interpret his toe taps, which represented the "count" of the deck and transfer the data to his athletic supporter. Hmmm...
The Views on News area is quite innovative, bringing a lighter look at our world to the screen as seen through different pairs of eyes. Take a peek at this new service and speak your mind.
Till next month, C U on-line...