Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 4, NO. 5 / SEPTEMBER 1985


Using GEM control panel

by Jack Powell, Antic Technical Editor

The GEM desktop has a window display called the Control Panel that lets you configure the 520ST to suit yourself. Let's take a look at all that can be done with this useful utility.

When you click the Control Panel option in low resolution, up pops a colorful window jam-packed with icons, switches and buttons.

You'll find that you can click and drag the Control Panel window anywhere on the desktop, or click on the upper-left corner to close it. However; you can't change the size.


Looking inside the Control Panel window, we see the time is set for 9:50 AM and the date is 5/31/56. This is simply a default set at Atari (probably someone's birthdate). To reset the time, move the mouse cursor to any part of the time and click. A text cursor appears and you enter the current time from the keyboard. The same process sets the date.

Just under the time/date portion are two slide bars with an indicator somewhere along the bar. Left and right of the top bar are icons of a finger pressing a key. By clicking and dragging the indicator along the bar, we adjust the key repeat delay. Key repeat delay is how long it takes for a key to begin repeating after it is pressed.

The next bar down has a tortoise icon on the right and a hare on the left. This adjusts key repeat rate. Repeat rate is how fast the repeats will occur once they begin. It didn't require much guesswork to discover that you move the indicator toward the hare to speed up the repeat rate.

We also found that placing both indicators in the far left position and pressing any key was like turning on a buzzer and made typing impossible. On the slowest setting you could wait a long time before even one character appeared.

Looking down one more section, we find a pair of mouse icons on either side of four numbered squares. Here is where you set the double click rate. If you recall, last month we mentioned that a single click chooses an item, and a quick double-click acts upon an item. In this section you can select how fast you want the double click to be read. Setting one is slow and four is fast.

Yes, the ST does have a console bell and audible keyclicks. Both come through the monitor speaker and are high-pitched rather like mouse squeaks. In the next portion of the Control Panel is a bell and the icon of a console key .You can turn either of these on or off by clicking them.

Over on the right is a box labeled "Cancel." A click on this returns all Control Panel options to their defaults.


Now let's play with the colors. In the upper left section of the Control Panel are three vertical columns labeled "R", "G", and "B". They stand for red, green and blue, the three color guns of the RGB video monitor. These three guns may be adjusted to eight levels of intensity in low resolution. Thus, we can obtain 8x8x8=516 colors.

The three RGB slide bars can be dragged up and down the columns to adjust the intensity from zero to seven. Down at the bottom of the Control Panel are 16 boxes representing the ST color registers. One of the boxes is larger than the others to show that it is the register currently affected by the intensity bars.

On the desktop three registers are active; black, white, and the light green of the desktop surface. If we click on the light green color box, it enlarges. Now, we can drag the intensity bars and change the desktop color with any combination we like. That's the Control Panel. It's a simple utility but it provides a good idea where software design is heading. We were quickly able to figure out how to use it without instructions or documentation. ST operation is a far cry from 8-bit Atari DOS.