Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 3 / OCTOBER 1988

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Much More On Microsoft Write

I appreciated your review of Microsoft Write in the Summer 1988 issue of START, but I have to disagree with some of reviewer Ian Chadwick's conclusions.

I agree with Ian on the good points he noted. One other nice feature that I haven't seen in an ST word processor (short of WordPerfect) is the Replace option that will replace text in context! If the word being replaced begins with a capital letter, the replacement string will begin with a capital. If the same word is all caps elsewhere in the document, the replacement string will be caps also.

MW's lack of a spelling checker is unfortunate, but not insurmountable. I have yet to find a built-in spelling checker in a word processor to match Thunder! (from Electronic Arts). The Thunder! accessory works fine with MW, although the delay between backspaces needs to be set to 10 or thereabouts to adjust for MW's slow screen updates. The standalone Thunder! program can be used to check finished MW files but not to make corrections.

While MW doesn't allow you to append one document onto the end of another, there is nothing preventing me from doing this. As Ian notes in his review, it is very unlikely that a user will need all four document windows active at one time, so all you need to do is open a document in another window, select all or part of the text, use the CUT option and then paste it at the end (or anywhere else) in the first document. On the issue of MW's use of GDOS and fonts, I fail to see how the lack of graphics makes its implementation of graphically printed fonts less useful. I have been using the graphically printed GDOS fonts on my older Epson-compatible printer with wonderful results; my NEC P6 printer does an even greater job. Of course, a laser printer will make best use of these fonts, but the dot matrix printouts aren't "mediocre." One other note about MW's use of GDOS: ASCII files may be loaded and saved by MW, but Ian failed to add that they will print properly as well. Unlike WordUp, which can print out non-graphically but without the proper page setup, MW will format documents for printing correctly for GDOS graphic printing and for normal non-graphic printing.

In calling MW a "semi-WYSIWYG" program, Ian is making the same proclamation about virtually all ST word processors, including Word Writer ST and 1st Word Plus. To me, MW comes the closest to true WYSIWYG word processing on the ST, maybe being exceeded by WordPerfect (which I don't have the budget to purchase--another plus for MW).

With MW's implementation of GDOS fonts, most of which are proportional, using column or character measurement would be meaningless, as would a column indicator. A capital "W" character takes up more horizontal space than five lowercase "i" characters. The ruler available in MW, along with the excellent tabbing features, allows for exact positioning for columnar material as well as filling in pre-designed forms. Additionally, with MW's mail merge feature, which allows for merging from data files and/or prompted input from the user during printing, pre-designed forms become a breeze.

MW is an extremely hearty word processor with many features that simply aren't available in anything short of WordPerfect (and at a significantly lower cost). When asked, I often steer new ST owners to Timeworks' Word Writer ST because it comes complete with a spelling checker, thesaurus and outline processor (which Ian finds so indispensible), and it is a very capable consumer-level product. But for those whose demands exceed the limitations of Word Writer ST, but do not require the expense and complexity of WordPerfect, Microsoft Write will fill their needs admirably!

Jeffrey J. Williams
Arlington Heights, IL

Desk Accessory Questions, Parts One And Two

Two questions, please:

First, I've found the START Calculator (START Fall 1987) to be so helpful to me that I'm sorry to say or point out that it has a flaw (gasp!). Why can't you use it in low resolution?

Second, is there any way to override the standard six desk accessories available, enlarge the "Desk" menu and have more accessories available at any time?

David Boruch
West Mifflin, PA

I'm trying to make a startup disk with all of my accessories and utilities on it. However, when I put more than one program in an AUTO folder, my disk will not load. How can I fix this? Also, I read that the ST only allows for six accessones to be activated at one time. Is there any way to correct this? And if I put more than six accessories on my disk, will a problem occur?

Ari Cornman
Philadelphia, PA

First, the START Calculator will not run in low resolution simply because there is not enough room on a low resolution screen to fit all the buttons.

GEM imposes a maximum of six desk accessones (DA's), and any program that uses GEM (including the ST's Desktop) allows space on the Desk menu for only six. Theoretically, it's possible to load more than six DA's by writing a DA program to act as a shell; the shell program could load in many DA's at boot time. Then, when you select the shell accessory from the Desk menu it would bring up another menu that lets you pick which accessory to access. Again, such a program is possible (infact, we had one submitted to our offices) but it could easily wreak havoc with your ST's memory.

Finally, we don't know of any such limit to the number of programs that you can run from an AUTO folder However, programs in the AUTO folder run in the same order in which they were added (which is usually not the same order they appear in on the Desktop) and some programs must run before any other programs in order to work. Check the documentation of your programs to see if this is the case.

To rearrange the programs in the AUTO folder, copy out all the programs (either to the root directory of your boot disk or to another disk), delete all the programs in the AUTO folder and then copy the programs back, one at a time, in the order desired. You may need to experiment a little. If one particular program is hanging up your ST no matter where you put it, try making a new copy of it; if that doesn't work, contact the company that makes it and ask for assistance.

What About .IMG Files?

At the present I am struggling with understanding .IMG files. I don't understand how they are stored in 75, 150, 200 or 300 dots per inch (dpi). I would appreciate if you could explain how this is done. So far, I haven't been able to find this information in any ST books or magazines.

Gilbert A. Bush, M.D.
Alta Loma, CA

.IMG files use a GEM VDI bit image file format and are unique in that they can be larger than the size of the ST screen. They are popular with designers of image scanners, desktop publishing packages and some drawing programs (for example, Migraph's Easy Draw). .IMG files are only stored in one resolution--the one they were created in. However, you will not be able to print out the image at a resoludon higher than the capabilities of your output device (plotter, printer or whatever). For example, an image created at 300 dpi will be printed at a lower resolution if you are using a 150 dpi laser printer. On the other hand, an image created at 150 dpi will not be improved by printing it on a 300 dpi laser GDOS (the Graphic Device Operating System--a part of GEM) controls output of .IMG files.

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Alert Box

Unsafe at any speed!

It's hard to believe, but Dave Small was in error in his column in Special Issue Number 4. In checking with Atari, we learned that most Atari floppy disk drives do have speed adjustments. Only the Chinon drives that were used by Atari for a short period do not have such an adjustment. Atari's current drive source is Epson; their drives also have adjustmeets. However, Dave's advice still stands: START does not advise any owner to disassemble his or her ST drive to adjust the drive speed. This is a job better suited to an authorized Atari Service Center.

Creation! patch program

There is a slight problem with Creation! in the Summer 1988 issue that only affects the program under certain circumstances. If you have the pre-Mega TOS ROMs in your ST and want to save a fractal landscape as a CAD-3D object, the alert box only offers 20x20 and 40x40 resolution. The 80x80 option is the default; if you press Return instead of choosing one of the options, your object will be saved in 80x80 resolution. This does not occur with the Mega ROMs.

Tom Hudson has written a patch program to correct this problem--it's on this issue's START disk as CREPAT.PRG. Creation! must be in the same directory and folder as CREPAT.PRG; run CREPAT.PRG and after a moment, you should see an alert box saying Creation! has been fixed. Once you have fixed Creation!, you will never have to run CREPAT.PRG again.

. . .And apologies to Tom for listing an incorrect price for his Antialiaser: it's a mere $19.95, including developer documentation. You can get it by sending check or money order to Tom Hudson, PO. Box 3374, Shawnee, KS 66203.