Classic Computer Magazine Archive ST-Log ISSUE 25 / NOVEMBER 1988 / PAGE 32


by Andy Eddy

While the rest of this issue is devoted to good buys around the holiday, I'll take some time to look at one of the best buys in shareware. Reintroducing a familiar name, Darek Mihocka (found on DELPHI as DAREKM) has brought out an entirely new ST Xformer.

More Than Meets the Eye

If you've been living in a cave for the last couple of years, you'll need some background. In 1986, Mihocka, an enterprising programmer from Canada, had the inkling to emulate the Atari 8-bit computers on the ST. Seeing that many of the ST owners cut their teeth on the 8-bit computers, this seemed like an enticing and unique proposition that would add to the number of computers that the ST could already mock, computers that include the IBM PC (via Avant Garde's PCditto program), the Macintosh (through Data Pacific's Magic Sac cartridge) and CP/M (with Atari's own software emulator).

To make a long story short, after a struggle, Atari allowed Darek to use their 8-bit operating-system code in the Xformer, provided he put the program into the public domain for others to see and possibly improve on. His initial effort appeared in the September 1987 issue of ST-Log.

That first program was bulky, requiring the user to keep track of multiple files (such as those containing the character set and operating system) to run the emulator. But, thankfully, Mihocka has used his time since then to slim down and consolidate all of the elements into one single program, one that is far easier to run. Further adding to the good news, he also has sped up the routines immensely, creating an emulator that is now closer to 50 % the speed of an 8-bit machine and more compatible to boot. (Sorry for the pun, gang).

Mihocka is also selling advertising (remember, I said he was enterprising) for display from his constantly enhanced program. Strangely enough, this ensures that he will be bringing out new versions of the Xformer—he hopes for updates each month. For this reason, it's likely that the latest update will be found in the ST SIG databases. Any versions ofST Xformer can be easily found by typing "SEA XFORMER" (short for "SEARCH XFORMER") from the DBASES:App > prompt of the applications database. This will scan all the keywords for "XFORMER." You'll see something like this: [Figure 1]

This is certainly one of the more interesting shareware stories around, and the $20 that Mihocka is asking is only a pittance compared to the efforts that went into this epic. To make the future even more shocking, Mihocka claims to be getting closer to emulating the Apple II and Commodore 64 computers, also. Formally, he requires the go-ahead from the respective companies, which is looking unlikely at this writing. He has contacted both companies with no positive results. Keep your eyes on the databases for up-to-date information.

Thanks For the Member-ies

If you want to discover more about the people whose company you share on DELPHI, you have a number of ways to get basics and background on them. Most likely, the first thing you'll want to do is find out the user's name with the Entry Log. When you first join DELPHI, you have the option of picking any name as your online persona. My original username was KIDX, which identified my own company, Kid X Enterprises. Others are similarly informative, such as REGENT-WARE (Frank Cohen, Regent Software's president) and NEIL HARRIS (Neil Harris of Atari). Some will catch your eye for their humorous touch—MAX—BEDROOM gets my vote for the funniest ID, but FAT-ONE was at one time a laugh producer.

To find out the person's real name (or at least, how they registered with the SIG when they joined), you can type "/ENT- username," where "username" is the ID you are looking for. Typing "ENT ANALOG2" brings up my name and the time I was last on: [Figure 2]

The Entry Log also lets you expand your requests somewhat. Anything you type after the "/ENT" will be tested against all IDs in the SIG membership. For instance, typing "/ENT ANALOG" brings up all IDs beginning with ANALOG.

Lastly, the "/ENT" command is fairly global, meaning that you can type the command in at most any prompt to get the information you want. Keep in mind that the Entry Log is SIG-specific, so if you go to another SIG, the membership list will be different.

To take this member-information gathering further, you should take a trip to the Member Directory. This is where a SIG member can post an expanded profile. The profile can be as simple as providing a name and location, or it may include as much as a list of computers used, pet's names, occupations and more. It is up to the user to post what they want others to know, but the Member Directory offers a great way to get to know your fellow SIG attendees and let them know you.

DBASES: App> sea xformer
Starting a new search.
XFORMER : 2 found.
DIRECTORY, READ, WIDEN, and NARROW will now operate on the selected items.
DBASES: App> rea
Date: 30-JUN-1988 20 : 39 by DAREKM
Size: 166016 Count: 60
All new 6502 emulator. 100% faster and 100+% more compatible.
This ARC file includes the emulator, file transfer utilities,
Atari DOS 2.5, sample files, lots of documentation, and then
some! Requires 1 Meg of memory. Color monitor is suggested.
FORUM> /ent analog2
Andy Eddy (ANALOG2) last on at 20—JUL—1988 23 : 14 : 26.
Atari ST>what do you want to do? mem
MEMBER Directory Menu:

If you haven't yet put a profile of yourself together, take the time to go to the Member Directory and compose one. From the Atari ST prompt, type "MEM" to get to there, then type "IAM" to access your description. If you haven't put one up yet, DELPHI will ask you for basic information. After that, you can select keywords that fit other aspects, by choosing preselected words or adding your own. As you can see, the Member Directory menu is very simple: [Figure 3]

This process makes it easier for all the faceless people on DELPHI to become a little closer and makes the whole system more neighborly. Take a few minutes to start or update your profile, so others will know you better.

Can We Talk?

Lastly, the best way to get to know others and learn about current events in the Atari world is to join in on the weekly ST SIG real-time conference. Held every Tuesday, at 10 p.m. (EST), it lets users actually talk back and forth to each other. From the Atari ST prompt, type "CO" (for "CONFERENCE"), then "JOI WEEK" (to join the group called "Weekly Atari ST Meeting"). Hope to see you there.

Well, I'm off to get in some Christmas shopping. Till next month, C U online….