ST Hints For Hackers,
Novices and In-between
Compiled by Patrick Bass START Technical Editor
The ST's color monitor is one of the clearest and sharpest in the industry. It does a dandy job displaying ST graphics, but--in case you've been wondering--it won't plug into the Atari PC. However, it will work fine with any of the new Mega series ST computers.
By the time you read this, Atari should have released the Mega STs, and ST graphics will be faster than ever with the new blitter chip. Late word is that there are actually two blitters--a square one (like the MMU in 520 and 1040 STs) and a rectangular "aircraft carrier" blister for upgrading existing ST computers. With any program that uses TOS for displaying graphics, the blitter speeds things up by as much as ten times.
Inside The New 520 ST
If you just bought your 520 ST, you know it looks a lot like a 1040--complete with built-in disk drive. The big differences: The disk drive is single-sided (the 1040 has a double-sided drive) and, of course, there's only half as much memory in the 520. The motherboard is identical to the 1040 motherboard, though, and the traces for installing more RAM are already there--so upgrading your 520 to one megabyte of memory may be easier on the new machines.
The Ultimate Thinking Machine
Your ST is one of the most compatible computers available. Not only will it run all software written for it, it can also run nearly anything written for the IBM PC using a program called PC-Ditto--it emulates a PC with monochrome, color, serial and parallel ports. PC-Ditto has been tested with every flavor of IBM DOS (including GEM), SideKick, Microsoft Word, MultiPlan, WordPerfect, dBase II and III, and Flight Simulator--slower than a real PC, but still usable. It's $89.95 from Avant-Garde Systems, 381 Pablo Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32225-phone (904) 221-2904 or circle 222 on the START Reader Service Card. Meanwhile, the new version of Magic Sac, the ST Macintosh emulator, runs more Mac software than ever--95 percent, it's claimed--and the Magic Drive will soon let you plug an external Mac-compatible drive into the ST Magic Sac, version 4.2, is $149.95 from Data Pacific, 609 E. Speer Blvd., Denver, CO 80203-phone (303) 733-8158 or circle 225 on the Reader Service Card. Finally, there's a free CP/M emulator available on CompuServe that runs thousands of programs from the CP/M 2.2 world. Maybe--just maybe--the ST can run more software than any other computer.
This year was a big time for AtariFests around the country--almost two a month--but Atari's decided to hold fewer (but bigger) expositions. If you're looking for new ST hardware and software, the new AtariFests are a good place to go; the first one (in June in San Jose) featured everything from Atari's new laser printer, Mega STs and PC clone to MlDI-Maze, a multi-player game that connects up to 16 STs through their MIDI ports. Upcoming AtariFests include fests in Los Angeles on September 19 and 20 (sponsored by ACENET; phone (818) 760-1831); Boston on October 10 and 11 (sponsored by the Boston Computer Society; phone (617) 296-8286); and Washington D.C. on October 24 and 25 (sponsored by NOVATARI; phone (703) 938-4829).
E.z Directory Updates
There you are, searching through your disks, looking for KREINHLD.DR or SWDHUD.JAB. After a while you start thinking that there must be a better way than closing the window, swapping disks, and then re-opening the window. There is! With the file directory showing in a window, just change disks and tap the Escape key. The window will refresh to show the contents of the new disk. Easy!
It's a dark and stormy night, and your older 520 ST starts acting crazy! Disks you know are good start showing up as "damaged," and all programs now show the dreaded TOS #35 error. Your ST may be suffering from the "loose chips" syndrome. Get thee directly to thy local ST Service Station and have them "clip" the chips. This means they'll simply place a special metal clip across each IC chip to securely hold the chip inside its socket. You don't need to do this to a 1040 ST, or one of the newer 520 ST's which come inside the 1040 casing. Newer ST's are already "clipped" and don't exhibit loose chips.
This isn't your day. There's a big report due tomorrow and your mouse just bit the dust. Can you still get your report out? Sure! Just hold down the Alternate key, and your cursor keys will now move the mouse pointer around the screen in character-wide jumps. Hold down [Shift] too, and the mouse pointer moves a pixel at a time. Also, with [Alternate] down, tapping the Insert key is the same as tapping the left mouse button.
A short'un--if you want to switch the printer output to the serial port instead of the parallel port, just click on the "serial" selection on the "install Printer" Desk Accessory.
Mouse Extension Formula; Shack Saves Mouse
It's amazing. Atari spent a great amount of time designing the ST series computer to be convenient and easy to use, and then on the 1040 ST they put the mouse/joystick connector underneath the computer! What to do? Either lift the entire unit up every time you need to plug/unplug a joystick (major hassle), or hop on down to your local Radio Shack store and buy their Joystick Extension Cord (part #276-1978, $3.99). Plug one end into the joystick port, and lead the other end wherever you desire. Now when you need to plug a joystick in, you can simply use the extension, without having to lift the entire computer.
Physician, Trace Thyself
Holy smokes! You just typed in War And Peace in C, saved the file, then accidentally deleted it. Short of typing it in again, can you recover the file? Sure. When you "delete" a file, the entire file isn't erased - the computer just changes the first letter of the deleted filename to a special character, and "forgets" where the file was saved on the disk, thereby freeing up the room the old file took up. If you write another file to the disk, it may be written to some of the space the original file took up. If this happens, the file really is unrecoverable. But if not, you can use one of the disk repair programs available, such as Disk Doctor (The Catalog, $29.95), which allow you to correct information directly on the disk. Find the filename, replace the first letter of the filename with the correct character, and then run the "trace" function so the ST can recover all the different parts of your file.
WANT MORE ST COVERAGE?
Then check out The ST Resource in Antic Magazine. Every issue brings you software reviews, type-in programs and new product announcements. See the subscription card in this issue of START!