Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 4 NO. 10 / MAY 1990

Dialog Box

Small Fan
I enjoyed the article titled "The Quest for Speed" by David Small (START, December 1990) very much. I especially enjoyed the breadth and depth of the article. I think it included just about everything I needed to know about speed and the ST in that article. You covered not only the products but also gave me a framework to think about my own computing needs in relation to the products. Wonderful!! The article even included a reminder that if your software is too slow, check to see if the updated version is faster.

I have subscribed for a little over a year to your magazine and I would love to see more articles that have the same range and depth as this one.

Bill Moore
Vancouver, BC

We, too, are big Small fans and we're working hard to bring you the depth and range you desire. You, our readers, can help us do so by filling out the survey included in this issue. - START Editor.

Wither Atari?
Our beloved Atari Corp. has promised advertising campaigns many times in the past and I have never seen them actually surface with any volume. Furthermore, Atari's marketing is nothing short of lousy in the United States - there are very few ST dealers, so support for the ST is shaky. Commodore recently launched a $15 million advertising campaign for the Amiga. ST developers have even formed their own defense group [the Atari Developers Association] in order to urge Atari to support the ST in product development and sales. Apparently, the ST community feels that Atari is not putting enough effort into selling their computers.

This criticism does not come lightly. I have been a very devoted Atari advocate for many years and I appreciate Atari for producing a computer that really does deliver on the promise of having "Power without the Price." But Atari needs to put some effort into some real hard advertising or the ST line is in jeopardy.

I have written to Atari with this concern and I would like to urge anyone else who feels as I do to do the same. A mail campaign might just be the persuasion the brass at Atari needs to put some effort into advertising. I believe ST users are tired of hearing about promised ad campaigns and now want to see some ads and even some more dealers out there, and push to make the ST (or even the STE or the TT) the new PC of choice for the United States. So come on START fans, write to Atari!

ErikJ. Reker
Fairbanks, Alaska

Sam Tramiel is the chief executive officer of Atari Corp.; Meades Ames-Kline is the new president of Atari US., which oversees both the computer and entertainment divisions. Both officials can be contacted through Atari 's Sunnyvale address: 1196 Borregas Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94088. - START Editor.

Procedural Problems
I'm having a problem with a program on the January 1990 disk. When I try to run the program, "GDOS Printer Drivers in GFA BASIC," I get an alert message. It says "3 bombs - address error Odd word address! Possibly at Dpoke, Dpeek, Lpoke or Lpeek." I think I have isolated the problem in the first lines of the Procedure
Openwork (device%).

Procedure Openwork (device%)

' Opens the device workstation for output.
Dpoke Contrl+2,0
Dpoke Contrl+6,11
Dpoke Intin,Device% Suspect this kne bad?
Dpoke Intin+20,2
Vdisys 1

I have a 520 ST with two double-sided drives. Any suggestions?

Oscar Perris
Redlands, Calif.

Jim Burton, GDOS Printer Drivers programmer, replies:

I've retested the GFA BASIC 2.0 code as it appeared in START and it works fine. The problem may have arisen due to the fact that GDOS is very unforgiving - if there is not enough memory or if the ASSIGN.SYS file is incorrect or corrupted, then GDOS will not function. But because GDOS doesn't do any error checking, it ends up confusing GEM, which is why I've gotten bombs and lockups and bus errors when experimenting with GDOS.

Be sure that you don't have a lot of desk accessories in memory, or a large RAM disk, and that you have some room on your current drive to store the temporary file which is created and deleted while GDOS runs, that the ASSIGN.SYS file is in the proper format, that your printer driver is listed at the proper place in ASSIGN.SYS. as described in the article, and that ASSIGN.SYS and the printer driver are in the root directory of the boot drive (whew).

If you 're sure that you have everything set up properly and the GDOS Printer Drivers program still doesn't run, then perhaps one of your files is corrupted.

I've Got Mine
My X-10 Controller hardware arrived yesterday. I tried it immediately with the X-10 Controller software (February 1990). It didn't work. On trying to set the X-10 clock, or base code, or run its diagnostic, I got the "X-10 is not responding" alert box and the program exited.

It was hard to tell if I had a bad controller or bad software, so I looked at the documentation that came with the hardware, got out my C compiler, and wrote a program that determined that the hardware worked. After I had successfully downloaded my first direct command I noticed the interface returned a new status code. I tried DARKROOM.GFA again and it worked.

The problem is DARKROOM.GFA won't work with an interface right out of the box because the hardware's status code is zero. You have to download successfully to change it to non-zero, but it won't download until the status changes. Catch-22.

Wayne E. Wright
Round Rock, Texas

According to the author of the X-10 Controller software, Howard MacOdrum, you can download when the status code is 0. In fact, that's the only thing you can do. Whenever the X-10 hardware is unplugged from the wall, or the battery runs down, or it is taken straight from the box, the status code is set to 0. Download a file, any file, to change it to non-zero. You'll then have access to the clock and diagnostics. - START Editor.

In Case You Forgot
Are you aware that there is a minimum of six memory upgrades now available for the ST? Wouldn't it be wonderful and helpful if a magazine such as START would contain an article comparing these upgrades on points such as ease of installation, reliability of connections, speed differences for the MMU chip to recognize added memory, possible incompatibility problems with some software, etc.?

You have some of the best people in the ST community writing for START. Why not utilize their talents to equip anyone who wants more memory in their ST with the information to make a wise choice on a reliable upgrade?

Robert P. Zeis
Pittsburgh, Pa.

You make an excellent suggestion - an article of this type is long overdue. We're happy to say that START finally has something in the works. Watch for a full review soon. - START Editor.
Alert Box
We're still getting cards and letters about errors from nine months ago. So this is a catch-all recitation of complaints and solutions.

Boingo (October 1989) and Final Approach Controller (November 1989) do not work with less than 1M of RAM. Again, we apologize for failing to mention that in their articles. We currently see no way of decreasing their memory needs.

Additionally, Final Approach Controller was not compiled, as the article stated. It runs under GFA BASIC's run only interpreter. Double click on GFABASRO.PRG, which was included on the disk. From the file selector, choose APPROACH.GFA.

The datafile for Madam Librarian (January 1990), named UBRARY.MGI, is too large to be loaded into a machine with less than approximately 730K of free RAM. This is the cause of the error message "Error in PROCEDURE READFILE at line 894." If you have a smaller amount of RAM, simply break UBRARY.MGI
(an ASCII file) into smaller pieces using your word processor, save the files as ASCII with a .MGI extension, and load them separately.

The problem several people experienced with Mystic Realm (January 1990) of failing to be resurrected when several extra lives were clearly indicated, is being looked into by the programmer, John Lince. The source code was not published in January, as the article said, but was put on the February disk.

The files for the X-10 Controller program were not named X10CTRL, as the article claimed. The filename is DARKROOM; the extensions are the same as stated in the article.

There have been complaints of a flickering mouse cursor and a rapid-fire deal in Mountain Solitaire (March 1990). Michael Gilbert is investigating.

If you were frustrated by the mysterious non-appearance of the ICD FA.ST Tape Backup review advertised on the April cover, take heart. It's in this issue.

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.

Do you have questions about using your ST? Is there somethmg you're not clear about? Every issue, START's editors listen to your comments and answer your questions in Dialog Box. Let us hear from you Our address is:

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