Software ReviewsMonkey Wrench (TM)
Eastern House Software
3239 Linda Drive
Winston-Salem, N.C. 27106
$49.95 from dealer or direct from publisher
At last someone has put the right slot of the 800 to good use. This ROM-based product is designed to be installed in the right-hand slot of the 800 and used in conjunction with BASIC.
This product will provide the BASIC programmer with nine new commands: (A) auto line numbering, (D) delete range of lines, (M) change margins, (T) memory test, (R) renumber, (E) cursor movement without control key, ($) hex conversion, (#) decimal conversion, and a machine language monitor providing another 15 commands.
The BASIC commands must be used in immediate mode and must be preceded by the > prompt.The > symbol must appear in column one followed immediately by the command letter. Any necessary parameters are separated by a space.
The Machine Language Monitor is entered by the * command. The MLM prompt is a period (.). The 15 MLM commands are; (M) display memory range, (I) interrogate memory (similar to M but also displays ASCII equivalents), (R) display all 6502 register contents, (:) alter memory, (;) alter 6502 registers, (G) goto address and execute code, (X) exit MLM and return to DOS, (S) save memory to cassette, (L) load memory from cassette, (H') hunt for ASCII string, (H) hunt for hex string, (D) disassemble memory, (,) alter disassembled code, (B) calculate branch, and (A) enter ATARI DOS. Three normal MONKEY WRENCH commands are available; E, #, and $.
As good as this product is there are a couple of caveats. First, the cartridge uses address space hex 8000 to hex 9FFF. This will reduce your 48K machine to 32K, 8K used by the BASIC cartridge and 8K used by Monkey Wrench. Second, this product uses part of page 6 for variable storage which is sure to cause some conflict. One other important point is that care is needed when inserting the cartridge, it's very easy to put it in backwards. This is probably my only real critism since it would have been very easy to mark "front" on the circuit board.
I must give this product high marks. It is extremely useful, the little manual is excellent, and they've provided a second ROM socket for expansion. If you are a heavy BASIC user I recommend it. (Jim)
Tricky Tutorials (TM)
Santa Gruz Educational Software
5425 Jigger Dr.
Soquel, Ca. 95073
These programs shine a much needed light inside the ATARI. If you've had your hands on the O.S./Hardware manual, the one that costs 30 dollars and is guaranteed to keep you up nights, then you know we need better instruction. If you've looked with envy at the animation in Missile Command(TM), the smooth scrolling graphics window in Crawford's Eastern Front and the mixed text modes in File Manager(TM) 800, then look again at these tutorials. They make these techniques more accessible. There is a caveat, these programs are meant to instruct with the full attention and motivation of the user. If you're content to just watch, go to a movie, if you want to learn about the working internals of your ATARI and use the special features to design professional programs then load a Tricky Tutorial(TM). It's almost impossible to use these products without getting some new insights. Each program is designed to give you immediate feedback using the most powerful tool at hand, your graphics display. The computer is used to provide the answer to your "I wonder what will happen when..." questions. Should you purchase these products be prepared to get involved, it's the only way.
There are currently six TRICKY TUTORIALS; 1) Display list, 2) Scrolling, 3) Page flipping, 4) Animation, 5) Player-Missiles, 6) Sound and Music.
Programs may be purchased individually or in a package of six. The six-pack comes in a nicely produced three-ring binder. All programs are available on tape and disk. All require 16K for cassette and 24K for the disk versions. The exception is the tutorial on Player-Missiles, #5, requiring 32K and costing $29.95. This was not available at the time this review was written.
I recommend these products; the price is right; the information necessary, and the value received high. (Jim)