[RETURN] to paradise
In November of l981 I brought home my new Atari 800 computer and experienced a major lifestyle change. It was the end of getting to bed early! I was very proud of my new pet that performed tricks and played games. My spare hours went to hunting in computer shops for anything that contained a article or program written for or about the Atari.
Fifteen months later, with 32K of extra RAM, a disk drive, an 850 interface, a printer and a subscription to ANTIC, I'm doing things with my 800 that I really never dreamed of when I bought it: data files, word processing, mailing lists, and, of course, great games. For many of these applications, commercial software is fine, but I have found that typing in public domain programs from magazines is not only rewarding, it's practically free!
Typing, however, is time consuming. And typing BASIC programs into the computer calls for a skill thay even many typists are not really good at - typing numbers. Numbers aren't so tough, if they are sprinkled throughout text of the program, but when you get to number-packed DATA statements, the going gets harder. And the best games (and some other types of programs) contain a good many DATA statements for such things as machine-language subroutines for super-quick graphics and for loading new character sets. It seemed to me that typing DATA statements would be a lot easier if you could just type the numbers and press the [RETURN] key. The Typer's Toolbox is designed to do exactly that.
USING TYPER'S TOOLBOX
When you run the program, the line writer asks for the beginning line of the statements that you want to type. Next, it asks for the increment between line numbers (when you're lucky, the program lines are evenly spaced, but if they aren't, you can use a value of "1" for the increment, and just skip over line numbers that you don't need). Then, it asks you to specify if you are writing DATA statements or another type ot statement.
If you are entering "regular" program lines (which for our purposes means anything except a line that starts with the word "DATA"), Toolbox will automatically provide you with a line number and will position the cursor. Type the statement as usual. When you have finished typing the line, press [RETURN]. The program will display the line you have typed and will also display the next line (in case there is an entry on it already). If you press [RETURN] again, the process will be repeated. Any other key will take you to a function menu. Prompts are provided at every point in the program to make your choices clear.
When you are writing DATA lines, the screen will display the line number to which you are writing and request you to input the elements one by one. If you accidentally press the [RETURN] key without making an entry, the program will give you one more chance to make an entry into that position. When you are finished with a line, you must press the [RETURN] key twice to process the line. Toolbox will write the line number, the word "DATA," and supply all or any commas that the line might need. All you ever have to do is type the material that is on the DATA line, whether numbers or words, and press the [RETURN] key! When the DATA statements consist exclusively of numbers in a long list, which is frequently the case, this method dramatically speeds up the process of copying.
The menu presents several options after you've finished typing each line. You may (1) continue, (2) edit the last line you typed, (3) change the increment between the lines that you are writing, (4) shift modes between "regular lines" or DATA lines, (5) restart a line-delete utility. If you are writing DATA lines, the number of elements you have entered on the last line, and the total number of elements you have typed into any or all DATA lines, will be displayed. At the bottom of the screen, the current mode of line entry and the amount of free memory are displayed. Pressing any of the numbers indicated on the menu auto- matically executes that function.
You may change the line increment in any way, going either forward or backward to any line number. However, if you step backward to write a line, the computer will write that line and again begin stepping forward from that point.
The "line-delete utility" can be used to delete any range of lines. This utility writes commands to the screen, then exits the Toolbox program completely to execute those commands in the computer's direct mode. This is accomplished by using the program to write all instructions necessary for the delete process on the screen, and then asking the cursor to pass over those lines as it exits the program.
To run Toolbox, type it in and LIST lines to the disk or tape. Whenever you want to use the program, enter it into memory and then give the command "GOTO 30000." Using this program has cut the time it takes me to enter blocks of DATA statements by two-thirds! Toolbox runs exactly the same in both Atari BASIC and BASIC A+.
Fr. Steven Bobulsky is an associate Pastor at a Chicago parish. He is busily working on his Atari to "computerize" his church's day-to-day operations.
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