Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 12 / JULY 1989


Tips and Tricks for the ST Owner

By Heidi Brumbaugh
START Programs Editor

Super Tip

Superbase Professional has some great reporting features, but they lack one key feature--you cannot print out the contents of an external text file. Fortunately, you can use Superbase's Database Management Language (DML) to write a program to print your own report, including the contents of an external field. Include the following subroutine in your DML program:


INPUT LINE a$:REM get rid of ruler
   REM get rid of special character
   IF ASC( RIGHT$ (a$,1))=4 THEN
      ? LEFT$ (a$, LEN (a$)
      ? a$

You can still graphically edit your report using the Superbase Forms Editor. Save your form in report format, load it into the programs editor and delete all the REPORT commands. Put the print statements in a loop:

FOR i% = 1 TO RECCOUNT ("") 
  { report printing commands } 
  { including branch to Showfile subroutine }

Word Writer Print Spooler

Word Writer's print spooler makes a temporary copy of a file on disk, and then prints directly from disk so you can use the word processor for other things while it is printing. The designers of this feature were a little over-enthusiastic about it--they didn't give you a way to turn it off. This means the print spooler's disk access can take a good two or three times longer than the actual print operation, especially for a short document.

You can speed up printing by directing the print spooler to a hard disk or RAM disk. To do this, all you need to do is access your hard disk or RAM disk before printing. For example, if you've loaded a file from drive A, click on Save As. . ., select your faster drive from the GEM file selector (for example, C or D), and click on Cancel.

There's More Here Than Meets the Eye

You've started using GFA BASIC menu commands such as ON MENU MOUSE GOSUB and ON MENU KEY GOSUB, but you've found that you need information that these commands don't give you. Keep in mind that GFA BASIC is sending your commands to AES, and in many cases the corresponding function calls return information to the AES parameter block. You can access this information through the GFA BASIC MENU( ) array, or from the AES parameter block directly.

For example, after a procedure branch from an ON MENU BUTTON command, you can find out whether a Shift, Alternate or Control key was pressed by examining MENU(13) or DPEEK (GINTOUT+8). A good book on GEM Programming will give you the specific values returned from various AES calls, which you can use to make your programs more sophisticated.

Don't Tell Rainbird

David Litchman of Stamford, Connecticut sends this clever ploy to increase missile stores in Rainbird's Carrier Command: "When you're outfitting a Walrus tank, place nine Harbinger surface-to-surface missiles in its weapon's bay. Then, remove those missiles and replace them with an Avatar chemical laser. When you launch the Walrus from the carrier, you should have both the laser and the missiles available for use. If you don't use the missiles they will be added back into the carrier's inventory when you return, so there will be the missiles that were removed initially from the walrus plus the ones you brought back, making more missiles than when you started! You can build the carrier's stores up to maximum by doing this a few times."

Well, sounds like a bug to me, David, but who am I to knock free missiles? I won't tell Rainbird if you won't. . .

Got an ST trick or tip to share? We're interested in tips for the rank beginner or expert programmer, for exploring the Desktop or for getting the most out of any popular ST program. Send your tips to the Clipboard, START Magazine, 544 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94107.