An ST Software Reset (Served Cold)
BY TOM HUDSON
START Classic is a monthly feature that presents some of the most popular programs and utilities ever included on the START disk. This month we present Tom Hudson's ReSTART from Special Issue Number Four. It's a utility that lets you cold-boot your computer with just a few keystrokes.
|AT A GLANCE|
Resetting your ST or Mega seems like a simple task - just reach around the computer and press the reset button, right? Wrong. This is just a warm start, which means that all resident programs are thrown away (except for specially written utilities such as some "reset proof" RAM disks). A warm start leaves all sorts of garbage in memory - some of which you might not want to keep around. To really get a clean slate, you have to do a cold start, which sets your computer to the way it was when you first turned it on.
You'd think that turning off the power would take care of the problem - after all, if you turn off the power and then turn it back on, you'll get a cold start, right? Well, maybe. When you turn your computer off, memory starts to decay, and may take several seconds to totally blank out. If you turn your computer off and then on again too quickly, the memory may not decay completely, and the system thinks it's doing a warm start!
Megas present a different problem. They have a detachable keyboard that can be several feet away from the computer and it has the reset button and power switch several feet further away! If you're like me, your desk is cluttered with manuals, magazines, monitors and modems - not to mention the magazines and manuals I usually have on my lap. Reaching around these piles and fumbling blindly behind the Mega CPU can seem like an almost Herculean task. By the time you've found the switch you're looking for, you've got the manuals on the floor, junk knocked over on your desk and a strained back for your trouble.
Never fear, ST owners. ReSTART is here to save you from system reset-itis. With a simple keystroke combination, the system will cold start - as if you had powered off the system, waited several seconds and powered it back on again. The reset button retains the normal operation - pressing it will give you a simple warm start, keeping those reset-proof RAM disks safe.
From your START backup disk, double-click on the archive file CLASIC02.PRG and choose Extract when the dialog box appears. Select a destination disk and the file will un-ARC directly onto that disk. Copy RESTART.RG into the AUTO folder on your boot disk or hard drive. Now reboot your computer.
When the system starts up, you will see ReSTART's installation message appear on your screen. Once your GEM Desktop appears, you're ready to roll. Press and hold [Control] -[Alternate] on the left side of the keyboard. With these keys held down, press [Delete]. Your ST system should instantly reset to its power-up state. Amazing.
What ReSTART Will (And Won't) Do
You can use ReSTART with virtually every program that runs on the ST, although some programs which disable the normal ST operating system will render ReSTART inactive. I have personally tested ReSTART with dozens of commercial software packages and terminate-and-stay-resident utilities and it has worked flawlessly with them all. You should have very little trouble in most situations.
Because it is a software utility which depends on the proper operation of the ST's operating system, ReSTART is vulnerable to serious system crashes. If one of your programs bombs and you can't hear a keyclick from your monitor when you press keys, ReSTART has probably been killed, and you'll have to resort to pressing the system reset button manually or repowering up.
In order to work properly, ReSTART changes a special flag inside the ST which causes the system to return the status of [Control], [Shift] and [Alternate] when a key is pressed. Some programs may be sensitive to this special condition and may react differently than normal, but most are unaffected.
Tom Hudson is the author of DEGAS, DEGAS Elite, CAD-3D, Cyber Sculpt, Cyber VCR and The Antialiaser. He lives in Kansas.