Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 9 / APRIL 1989

Dialog Box

Letters From Our Readers

Buenos Dias

Since your article "ST Writer Returns" in the Fall 1987 issue I've been anxiously awaiting the new ST Writer in Spanish. I have checked with the dealers here, and they don't have any information.

Also, I've been using your program STARTKey from the Winter 1987 issue, but I have a problem with it and many similar programs. I use my Atari 5205T with an autobooting hard disk, without an A or B drive. In order to use STARTKey, I have to have MACROS.MAX drive A. How can I get around this?

Brigitte Tetzner
Caracas, Venezuela

You're in luck! The Spanish version of ST Writer is on this issue's START disk in the file SPANSTW.ARC. This is the newest upgrade of ST Writer Elite (version 3.0), with all known bugs fixed and some exciting new features. Read Bruce Noonan's article in this issue for details.

There are two ways to solve the STARTKey problem. One is to edit the path name for the default macro file in the STARTKey source code and recompile the accessory. The other is to edit the STARTKEY.ACC file directly, using a program such as Byte Mechanic from Special issue Number Four of START. Simply load the file into Byte Mechanic and replace both occurrences of A: with, for example, C:. (The first A: refers to the drive to load macro files from; the second, the drive to load MACROS.MAX from automatically at boot time.)

You can modify most programs and desk accessories this way, but edit the file using Byte Mechanic's "overwrite" mode so you don't change the length of the file, as inserting even one additional byte can cause the program to crash. Given this limitation, you do have a good deal of flexibility in customizing the file. For example, you can change A:MACROS.MAX to C:MACROS.MAX or, if you want to store your macros in a folder, C:\M\MAC.MAX.

Always work from a backup copy of the program. Since this is a desk accessory, test it by booting from a floppy disk with the hard disk disconnected so you won't hang up your hard disk at boot time if something goes wrong.--START Editor.

Videotrax VCR Backups

I enjoyed reading about our Videotrax VCR backup product in Dialog Box (December 1988). However, your response to a reader's request for information about our product was incorrect by stating that "one such product is Central Computers Product's Videotrax." Videotrax is actually a patented product from Alpha Microsystems, while Central Computer Products is one of our Videotrax resellers.

Additionally, Alpha Micro has been utilizing the Videotrax technology (hard disk back up to a VCR) for eight years. The reliability of this system actually exceeds that of the hard disk itself by providing a reliability ration of 1 X 1011. Add to that the convenience of being able to use your own VCR, plus being able to store 80 megabytes of data on a standard two hour tape and you can see that this is truly one of the most exciting technologies in computers today.

Alpha Micro incorporates this technology in its own line of super microcomputers, as well as the IBM PC and clones and PS/2 family of computers. We are working on a version for the Macintosh which will utilize an external SCSI box. This SCSI box has been of interest to OEM/Developers, several of which have expressed interest in developing this system for use in the Atari market.

Denny Michael
Manager, Videotrax
Alpha Microsystems
PO. Box 25059
Santa Ana, CA 92799
(714) 957-8500

Thanks for correcting us and letting our readers know the status of this important product.--START Editor.

Vanna, Let's See the First Letters!

I just received my January 1989 START with disk, and eagerly tried out the Xref program. It ran okay, but the variables all had their first letters removed! The removal of the first letter was not a printing error, since the variables were sorted by the (original) second letter. Please let me know of a fix as soon as possible, since I could definititely use this program.

Chris Williams
Columbus, OH

Xref requires that all variables, procedures and function names be in lower case letters and GFA BASIC keywords and commands be in upper case. To set the file up correctly, run GFA BASIC and load the program you want to cross reference. Press the Esc key to enter command mode and type DEFLIST 0 and press Return. Press the Esc key again and Return to go back to GFA's menu screen, then save the file in ASCII format (Save,A) with the extender .LST.--START Editor

START Back Issues

I have a complaint. I am a devoted START subscriber, since 1987. A couple of months ago, I wanted to learn the format of block files created by DEGAS Elite. The DEGAS Elite manual merely referred me to Tom Hudson's article in the Fall 1986 issue of START. I tried to get the information directly from Tom over CompuServe, but he didn't answer, so I called your office and explained what I wanted. The woman who answered said that all she could do was to sell me the START issue.

So, I ordered it, to the tune of something like $18.95 (including handling charges, I guess). Since then, I learn from a recent START issue that you do have a policy of sending copies of articles for only $1! That is exactly what I needed. Now, I'd love to sell you back the issue which I did not need. I don't expect you to refund the $18.95, but would you credit it to my subscription account, toward future issues? Then I wouldn't feel ripped off at having paid almost one-quarter of a year's subscription fee for an issue I never wanted.

Alan Pollack
Newton Centre, MA

I'm afraid you're confusing apples and oranges, Alan. Our policy is that we will make a copy of an article for a reader for any issue that is sold out. Unless an issue is sold out, however, any reader wanting an article will have to purchase the entire magazine.

Because disks for all issues are still available, this policy is primarily a service we provide so that readers can receive documentation for a program on a back issue disk they've ordered. If you request such an article, be sure to enclose a self-addressed, stamped legal size envelope and $2 for each article for handling. Sorry about the price increase, but what was originally intended as a one-time offer has become an industry in our office, and a costly one at that!

Sorry you feel "ripped off." I hope that when you examine the disk and magazine you purchased, you will find you received a good value.--START Editor.

Dialog Box
544 Second Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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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.

Alert Box

The Tortoise and the Hare

Dave Small's Meg-A-Minute Elite hard disk backup program (November 1988) is speedy as a hare and, since it doesn't sleep on the job, it could easily win Aesop's famous race. If Meg-A-Minute Elite finds a problem in the hard disk, it will alert you that it is performing a "slow read" of the sector. In this case, slow and steady is not the best policy--the backup disk is simply not to be trusted. The danger is that if the problem carried over to the backup disk, you won't find out about it until you're in the middle of a recovery operation, that is, until it's too late. Because Meg-A-Minute Elite uses an image backup system, one bad disk can cost a number of files.

The best practice when you discover such a hard disk problem is to perform a file backup with a utility such as Turtle, George Woodside's public domain program, then reformat the hard disk and recover your drive from the file backup.

Wrong Address

In the product information to Editor's Choice (START, January 1989), we listed the incorrect address for the Mark Williams Company. The correct address is 601 Skokie Highway, Lake Bluff, Illinois 60044. Our apologies for the mix-up.