Compiled by Heidi Brumbaugh
Behind Closed Doors
The Wombats II universe, from START's December 1988 issue, is huge but you might not ever discover that if you don't get past the many doors in the game. Most of these are locked, but you may be able to pick them. Try examining the locks to see if anything you are carrying is about the right shape.
The Multi-Res DESKTOP.INF
A reader wrote wondering if there was a way he could set a low resolution color palette and save it in DESKTOP.INF even though he saved his Desktop in medium resolution. That way, when he switched resolutions, he wouldn't have to use the system colors.
Fortunately, DESKTOP.INF saves all the current settings, whether or not they show up in that resolution. Set your computer to low resolution and set the palette the way you want it using the Control Panel. Save the Desktop and switch to medium resolution. Set up your icons and windows the way you want them to appear at boot time and save the Desktop again. Now when you switch to low resolution your colors, not the systems, will be retained.
Setting up a Desktop so that it works well in two (or all three) resolutions can be a problem. You may have already noticed that if your medium resolution windows open on the far right side of the screen, they will be inaccessible when you switch to low res.
Icons, on the other hand, will always move so that they are visible on the current screen. I like to set my hard drive icons on the far right hand side of a high resolution screen and then save the Desktop so that when I switch resolutions the icons will still be on the right hand side.
A Desktop saved in high resolution will boot in low resolution on a color monitor. To change this you can edit the DESKTOP.INF file directly. The last number in the line that begins #E determines the starting resolution; 1 for low and 2 for medium.
After all this work, be sure to save a backup copy of your DESKTOP.INF file; unless you have a Mega it's easy to accidentally overwrite it.
In the best of all possible worlds you could set up your ST with several Terminate and Stay Resident programs (TSRs) in your AUTO folder and the six maximum desk accessories and lead a happy, productive existence. Unfortunately, where computers are concerned programs will not always coexist peacefully. If you come across a bug or weird crash in one of your applications, be it a commercial program, a public domain gem or the neat little hack you just wrote (which was working fine before), always suspect your TSRs and desk accessories of being at the root of the problem. Disable them by changing program extensions to .PR_ and accessory extensions to .AC_. Reboot and see if the problem crops up again. If the bugs still there, you haven't hurt anything by trying; if the problem's fixed, reactivate the programs on your boot disk one by one to see which one seemed to be causing the problem.
Troubleshooting this type of problem doesn't take long and, though TSRs certainly won't always be the culprit, you can save hours of tearing your hair out by checking them first. START's Editor recently had a lot of fun tracking this incompatibility down: Turbo ST from SofTrek will cause Timeworks Desktop Publisher ST to eject blank pages rather than print files.
If you do isolate an incompatibility be sure to notify both the manufacturer of the program that's having trouble and of the TSR or desk accessory so they can work to correct the problem.
One of the best features of WordPerfect for the ST is its macro power. You can define almost any key with the Alternate key as a macro and if you exhaust these possibilities, you can define a letter combination or word as a macro. For example, you can create a macro to add a function to WordPerfect to convert a letter from lowercase to uppercase:
1. Press Control-F10 to turn on the Macro Definition function.
2. If you want to call the macro with the Alternate-A key combination, for example press this combination now.
3. Press the Alternate and F4 keys to turn on the Block Function.
4. Press the right arrow key to define a one-character Block.
5. Press the Shift and F3 keys to bring up the case conversion menu and then press 2 and then Return to convert the Block to Uppercase.
6. Press the Undo key to "undefine" the Block.
7. Press the Control and F10 keys to end the Macro Definition.
To create an upper-to-lower case convertor assigned to, say, Alternate-R, follow the above steps with two exceptions: In Step 2, press Alternate-R instead of Alternate-A, and in Step 5, press 1 instead of 2.
Single-file copy operations have been significantly improved on the Megas, but on older STs if you have a single-drive system, copying files can be a real headache. The problem is you can make a mistake swapping disks and not realize it. If a program or file isn't working properly, try doing a disk copy instead by dragging the drive A icon onto the drive B icon and letting go. (Keep in mind that this will delete everything on the target disk.) A disk copy will probably take longer, but it requires fewer disk swaps--and has much less margin for error. If you're having trouble unARCing the files on your START disk, for example, try copying the disk and then deleting everything except ARCX.TTP and the file you want to unARC. Also, when you're performing single-file copies always write-protect the source disk.
This tip is from a recent jarring experience: I went to put an MS-DOS boot sector on a friend's disk using DC/Format and, curses, the disk directory came up garbled! After suffering a mild anxiety attack at the thought of ruining the disk, I realized I'd set DC/Format to single-sided but the disk was double-sided. A quick test confirmed that selecting double-sided and rewriting an IBM boot sector set the disk straight. Got an ST trick or tip to share? Send it to the Clipboard, 544 Second St., San Francisco CA, 94107.