Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 11 / JUNE 1989

Dialog Box

Letters From Our Readers

Software Renters Aren't All Bad

Your article on software rental (March 1989) contained many truths but was too one-sided. As a long-time software renter, I hope that no one immediately assumes me to be a pirate as asserted. I have found rental to be an invaluable means to evaluate first-hand the considerable software on the market, so that I can intelligently choose those that I ultimately purchase.

While it may seem to some that the only obvious purpose for renting is to pirate software, there are numerous other reasons that can in fact serve the ST community. Users can be prevented from becoming soured on the ST as the result of getting stuck with inferior software. And rentals can serve to create new purchases by hooking those who didn't expect to be a permanent user of a particular product.

I have no doubt that there are scabs that abuse the system--those leeches will always find some way to steal. However, the vast majority of software renters are legitimate potential customers and the software companies are wrong to assume that renters represent lost sales. Surely, most of us who are seriously committed to the long term use of a chosen software realize that if we don't eventually buy the product we're losing support through updated versions, replacements, technical help, etc.

Bob Wenham
Ft. Worth, Texas

We maintain that software rental does more harm to the industry and the user community than good, but we do realize there are two sides to every issue. We appreciate your bringing the other side to light, but we fear that software rental agencies are used much more by pirates than by legitimate users.--START Editor.

Alert Box

Dah Dit. . . Bleep!

Shortly after the February 1989 issue reached the newsstands, we started receiving bug reports on the Dah Ditter program about an annoying extra "blip" that sounds after each Morse Code character. It turns out that the bug only occurs in the compiled version of the program. If you have the GFA BASIC 2.0 Interpreter (from the January 1989 issue of START) you can fix the problem by simply running the program in the interpreter. Run GFA BASIC, click on Merge and then select DAHDIT.LST. This file is in ASCII format, so it will take a long time to load. (If you then click on Save and type in the filename DAHDIT.BAS, not only will it load into the interpreter much faster the next time but you will be able to run this file in the GFA BASIC run-only program.)

If you have the GFA BASIC compiler, you can fix the bug and recompile the code. Simply replace this Key_code procedure:

Procedure Key_code(Char%)
   Element% #0
      Dur% =A%(Char%, Element%)
      Inc Element%
      Sound 1,15,#125,Dur%*Rate
      Sound 1,0,#125,Rate
   Until Dur%=0
   Sound 1,0,=125,Delay*2+Cust_flag%

with these lines:

 Procedure Key_code(Char%)
    Element% =0
      Exit If Dur%=0
      Inc Element%
      Sound 1,15,#125,Dur%*Rate
      Sound 1,0,#125,Rate
    Sound 1,0,#125,Delay*2+Cust_flag%

The corrected DAHDIT.PRG program (complete with data files, in case you don't have the February issue) is on CompuServe in Antic Online's May software shelf. Log onto CompuServe and type GO ANTIC to download the file.

One Dit Too Many

I have subscribed to your START from nearly the beginning, and I have been impressed with both the volume and quality of the information presented there. You do a great job in providing helpful information and programs to the ST community.

I am writing to you about the Dah-Ditter program that was on the February 1989 disk. I am currently trying to learn Morse code to earn my Novice Class amateur radio license. When Dah-Ditter appeared in your magazine I was ecstatic. Learning code from tapes is boring and gives you a false sense of security since after a while you memorize the code that is being sent. Dah-Ditter lets you learn code and to improve your copying speed all the way through the Amateur Extra Class license requirements. Most of the boredom is removed because you can send any message you like.

The problem is that when I run DahDitter on my 1040ST, I get an annoying little blip after every message is sounded out. The Farnsworth method requires you to learn code by the sound of the characters, not the dots and dashes that make them up. Consequently, the program is all but useless to me because the character sounds are all wrong. It acts as if the sound chip is not being properly turned off after each character. Without the source code I can do nothing. Do you have any suggestions? I want to make this otherwise excellent program useful.

John M. Larrabee
La Vista, Nebraska

Thank you for your praise of Dah-Ditter. We are aware of the "extra blip" bug; see the Alert Box in this issue for information on how to solve the problem.--START Editor

An Open Invitation

This is an open invitation for START readers to join GBUG, the international GFA BASIC Users Group, founded by RASCOM in July 1987. GBUG publishes a monthly newsletter also called GBUG which is loaded with GFA BASIC tips, tutorials, mini-program listings and much more.

START readers can join at the charter membership fee of $15 per year (make checks payable to RASCOM. Our address is listed below). This price covers a full years subscription of GBUG, a complete set of back issues and the associated mini-program listings on a supplied disk.

Our thanks to START magazine for making GFA BASIC readily available and for giving me the opportunity to spread the news about GBUG. Keep up the good work.

Robert Smith, President
22128 Newkirk Ave.
Carson, CA 90745

Dialog Box
544 Second Street
San Francisco, CA 94107


START Welcomes submissions. Please include both hard copy printouts of articles and program listings as well as disk files on ST compatible disks. Media will be returned if self-addressed, stamped mailer is supplied. START assumes no responsibility for unsolicited editorial materials.


When we offered the GFA BASIC 2.0 manual in our January 1989 issue, we were overwhelmed by your response--it's now completely sold out. Now, through a similar arrangement with MichTron, Inc. we're able to offer you the original GFA Vector Manual to go with the program on the June 1989 START disk.

With GFA Vector you can now animate objects you have created with GFA Object (on our May 1989 START disk) and include them in programs written in GFA BASIC 2.0. To get the original MichTron manual, call (800) 234-7001 and ask for Product #TH0004. The manual is just $9.95, plus $3.50 for shipping and handling. (Only Visa and MasterCard orders can be accepted for phone orders.)

To order by mail, send a check or money order for $13.45 to:

544 Second St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

We have only a limited number of manuals, so be sure to place your order today to make sure you receive yours.