By Jon A. Bell
START Associate Editor
Taming the Mighty Mouse
Practical Solutions has a knack for coming up with simple but incredibly useful hardware. If you have both a monochrome and color monitor, their Monitor Master is indispensable: It's a box that lets you hook both monitors into your ST simultaneously and switch between them with one push of a button--no more annoying cable swapping.
Now they've come up with another ingenious peripheral--Mouse Master, a box that plugs into your mouse and joystick ports. The Mouse Master has three ports, allowing you to plug in a mouse and two joysticks, or other peripherals, such as trackballs, and switch among them. Use your ST and mouse for business, then switch to joysticks and play an arcade game with another person. A "must-have" for 1040 owners (you won't have to continually lift your computer off the desk every time you plug in or unplug your mouse). Monitor Master, $49.95; Mouse Master, $39.95. Practical Solutions, 1930 Grant Rd., Tucson, AZ 85719, (602) 884-9612.
Publishing Partner Professional
St. Louis-based Softlogik Corp. has just released their long-awaited Publishing Partner Professional, a full-featured desktop publishing program for the ST. Professional includes virtually everything you'd ever want: multiple fonts, type styles and sizes, multiple columns, text wrap (even around unusual shapes, such as circles) and an incredible variety of text and graphics manipulation features (you can scale your text in 1/50th of a point increments, for example). Professional includes an 80,000-word spell checker, and allows you to output your text to dot-matrix printers, Postscript or non-Postscript laser printers or high-end photo-typesetting equipment. Publishing Partner Professional, $199.95. Softlogik Corp., 11137 South Towne Sq., Suite C, St. Louis, MO 63123, (314) 894-8608.
Atari's SLM804 Laser Printer
After being announced over a year ago (January 1987 CES), the Atari SLM804 Laser Printer is finally shipping. The SLM804 is a "dumb" laser printer--it has no onboard processor or RAM, and requires an attendant ST or Mega computer to drive it. The Atari Laser runs from the hard disk port (you can connect your hard disk drive through the included interface box). The Laser will print eight pages per minute at 300 DPI resolution, and includes four software disks: the Printer Emulator (for a Diablo 630), the GDOS Driver and two fonts disks. Atari SLM804 Laser Printer, $1999.95. Atari Corp., 1196 Borregas Ave., P.O. Box 3427, Sunnyvale, CA 94088, (408) 745-2000.
Upgrading GFA BASIC And The Juggler
GFA BASIC, probably the most popular BASIC language for the ST, has just been upgraded. MichTron, GFA's distributor, has just announced GFA BASIC 3.0, which should be available as you are reading this. Version 3.0 features 300 new commands, and includes a better editor and ALINE and AES support. If you're a registered owner of an earlier version of GFA BASIC, you can get 3.0 for $49.95. (A MichTron spokesman declared that beta versions of 3.0 they've tested don't appear to have any compatibility problems with previous GFA BASIC versions.) GFA BASIC 3.0, $99.95.
Another MichTron upgrade is for The Juggler, a program that allows you to switch among up to seven GEM applications (provided they interact correctly with your desk accessories). Juggler II can partition your ST's memory into two, four or eight equal sections; whatever application resident in any particular section is treated as if it is the only one in your computer's memory. When you press the Alternate and Shift keys, The Juggler freezes program operations in the active partition, then moves to the next one Juggler II, $39.95. MichTron, 576 S. Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053, (313) 334-5700.
Total MIDI Superiority From Steinberg to Drumware
At the 1988 Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show, held January 15-17, the ST once again proved its dominance in the computer music field. Virtually every MIDI software company in attendance had programs for the ST, and most companies were showing new wares--software ranging from ear trainers to advanced sequencers for film and television scoring.
One company, Steinberg Software, was showing a line of music and MIDI programs in virtually every category. Pro-24 III is a professional-level sequencer that offers real-time editing and the ability to load standard MIDI file song formats, making the program fully compatible with current MIDI utilities. Time-Lock is a SMPTE processor for Pro-24 III, allowing you to read and write to the four available SMPTE modes; it also saves your SMPTE settings to disk with each piece of music you work on. The Ear is a music education program that teaches intervals, chords and scales; it requires a MIDI keyboard. Masterscore is a powerful music notation and scoring program, allowing you to display and print scores--from a piano sonata to a symphony, on 9-, 24-pin or laser printers. Steinberg was also showing patch editors and librarians for some of the most popular synthesizers: Synthworks D-50 and MT-32 are for the Roland D-50 and MT-32, respectively; Synthworks TX-81Z is compatible with the Yamaha DX-21, DX-27 and DX-100 synths. Pro-24 111, $295; Time-Lock, $375; The Ear, $99; Masterscore, $350; Synthworks D50, $259; MT-32, $199; TX-81-Z, $259. Steinberg Software, distributed by the Russ Jones Marketing Group, 17700 Raymer St., Suite 1001, Northridge, CA 91325, (818) 993-4091.
In addition to the "big boys" at NAMM such as Steinberg, Dr. T's and Hybrid Arts, other MIDI companies were also well represented. One of these, Drumware, was making a big splash with GenWave/12, a generic waveform sample editor. Fully GEM-based, GenWave/12 allows you to transfer sound data from your sampler to your ST for editing. Edit your samples with the visual waveform editor, process the digital signal and cut and paste snippets of sound. Version 1.0 supports the Emu Emax and SP1200, Sequential P-2000/2, Akai S900, Oberheim DPX/Prommer and other instruments conforming to the MIDI dump standard. Requires one megabyte. GenWave/12, $299. Drumware, 12077 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 515, Los Angeles, CA 90025, (213) 478-3956.
Great Teacher, But Who is She?
Word processing is the primary use of many personal computers. If you can't touch-type, don't worry--your ST can teach you--or, more properly, Mavis Beacon can. Who? Mavis Beacon, famous mythical typing whiz.
Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing is a powerful, multi-level typing tutor featuring many different typing exercises, ranging from basic finger drills to a typing road racing game, complete with bouncy music (no kidding). The program keeps track of your errors, rates your typing speed and provides onscreen graphs to illustrate your progress. You can learn either the QWERTY or Dvorak layout, and lessons are tailored to your individual typing needs. Mavis Beacon's manual includes an entertaining history of typing. Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, $44.95. Software Toolworks, One Toolworks Plaza, 13557 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423, (818) 907-6789.
Do you have a new ST product? If so, we'd like to hear about it. Please send your press releases and product photos to New Products, START, 544 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94107.