Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 5 / DECEMBER 1988

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Letters From Our Readers

Thanks For Going Monthly

This is my first letter to you, and what, you may ask, is the occasion? The announcement that START is going monthly.

I have been buying START since the second issue and, by gum, I will continue to buy each and every issue, even if I have to stop buying all other computer magazines. START is by far the most professional of all the magazines devoted to the Atari ST, and this is the main reason for my loyalty to you.

Now, besides congratulating you on your increased frequency, I have some questions. Here goes:

1. Is it possible to use a standard VCR as a mass storage device hooked up to the MIDI In/Out ports? I've heard some strange and wonderful things about those ports.

2. The ReSTART TSR utility doesn't work with my STARTKey accessory. Why not?

3. How can I print out special characters, like the German umlaut, in ST Writer? I know about the deadkey function, but that just puts the character on the screen. When I try to print the file the character gets omitted. I always considered my printer to be quite Epson compatible, but nothing I do seems to work. I am aware of a rudimentary character translation table, but that doesn't do me any good either, since I must substitute one character with several, enabling the international character set, then disabling it again in order not to lose any English characters. Since I write frequent correspondence to Europe, ST Writer's inability to print out special characters is the one reason I never use it.

Thanks for helping me out. Again, congratulations for going monthly. And by the way, when you get a chance you ought to check out a new program called Flexcessory. It's distributed by E. A. Brown Company in Minnesota. I think it's the best desk accessory ever developed.

Christoph L. Herd
Colorado Springs, CO

1. it's technically possible to hook a VCR up to a computer and use it as a tape backup system; one such product is Central Computer Product's Videotrax. Unfortunately, that system only works with IBM PC's, PC clones and PS/2s. The company has plans to release a version for the Macintosh, but at present isn't planning anything for the ST.

2. We've also received a complaint that RESTART is incompatible with MichTron's Alt utility. Somehow the programs are stepping on each other, but we're not sure exactly how. STARTKey will work fine if RESTART is installed, but Alt gives up the ghost. RESTART doesn't work in either case. RESTART author Tom Hudson is looking into the problem.

3. According to Bruce Noonan, if your printer really is Epson-compatible it should have a DIP switch which will switch from a 128=character set to a 256=character set--which includes the foreign letters. If that's the case, you don't need to do anything to the printer configuration file; simply invoke the alternate character set by pressing Alternate X, then the character you want, then Alternate X again to return to the English set.

If you need to edit the character translation table, try assigning foreign keys to characters you don't use very often, such as the tilde or caret.

Finally, there is a roundabout way to send printer codes to the printer: Define a key (again, one you don't use very often such as the tilde) in your printer configuration table as the Escape key. When ST Writer encounters this code while printing, it will send a code to the printer. For example, to send the printer Escape B you would type ~B.... Ed.

Byte Mechanic Appreciated

I'm writing to express my appreciation of the Byte Mechanic program presented in Special Issue #4 of START. It was exactly what I needed to convert a client's file for import into Publishing Partner.

The file had been prepared using a combined spreadsheet and word processor on a PC clone. It contained control codes, multiple spaces and tabs, and the like.

Other programs allow me to view these codes and edit them by overtyping. But this is tedious and does not allow replacement of unequal-length strings. Conversely, text editing programs do not easily allow entry of non-ASCII codes such as $7F and $FF.

Byte Mechanic gave me the flexible search-and-replace facilities I needed to fix up the file quickly (and profitably). It's friendly, too--I can specify characters either in hex for the codes or by typing (for the multiple spaces). In short it's ideal for pre-DTP file treatment.

START is quite expensive here in the U.K., but it's certainly good value for the money.

Martyn Dryden
Dorset, England

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Igor Help Key Mishaps

The Igor program (Summer 1988 issue of START), came with a macro file for STARTKey that should let you invoke Igor by pressing the Help key. Unfortunately, this macro is affected by the bug in STARTKey mentioned in the Spring 1988 issue. The macro won't work until you remove the line the_ appl=0, which is located inside the first if statement of the procedure send_message( ). Recompile the program, using the header files on the Winter START disk.