Classic Computer Magazine Archive BEST OF ANTIC VOLUME 1

Exchanging Christmas cards helps make this time of year special, but digging through old slips of paper to find your addresses can take the fun out of it. Hand addressing all those outgoing envelopes is no thrill either. This year let your ATARI start handling this chore.

"Christmas Mailing Lister" is a cassette-based program that stores up to 140 addresses. You can create, change, or delete addresses at any time. You can print individual addresses, selected categories, or the whole file, sorted alphabetically by name or city. The printout can be done on labels, if you have the proper supplies and equipment, or in the form of an address book.

The unique feature that makes this nice for a Christmas list is that names are sorted beginning with the letter entered in inverse video, rather than the first letter of the name field. This way your labels can read "John and Mary Smith," or "The John Smith Family," instead of "Smith, John and Sue," or "Smith Family, The John." Just type the capital "S" in inverse video. Unforunately, this sort only works when running the whole list. An individual search for the Smith entry would still require hunting for "John and Mary Smith." "Smith" alone would not be enough.

You can also define up to six different categories for selected sub-sorts. Each name must belong to one category only, although this assignment may be changed at will. One possible use for the categories is to keep track of card exchange. For example, the categories could be defined as follows:

1. sent us a card in 1981
2. sent us a card in 1982
3. sent us a card in 1983
4. sent us a card in 1984
5. sent us a card in 1985
6. did not send card

This should keep you organized for a few years, by which time you'll probably have a disk drive and a storebought program.

This program requires a printer, a 410 Program Recorder, and at least 32K of RAM. The first step is to type the program into the computer. l recommend that you CSAVE to your permanent cassette and a backup before attempting to RUN the program. Note that "Merry Christmas!" in line 250 must be in upper-case inverse video.

When you RUN the program, first you'll see the title page, which changes to a menu after twenty seconds. You can shorten the wait by pressing [START]. The first four options on the menu require insertion of a data cassette, so the first time through you must select option #5, "create a completely new address list." Then you will define your six categories, each using 25 characters or less. You can bypass the category feature by pressing [RETURN] each time.

The next screen asks for a name, address, etc. Each of the first three fields can hold 28 characters. You can put in a nine-digit ZIP code (or shorter) and an area code with your phone numbers. Sorry, no numerical sorting with this program.

Enter a few addresses, then return to the main menu to experiment with the print, change and delete options. When you understand these, continue to enter addresses until you exhaust your list, or your computer's memory. Then return to the menu and selection option #7 ("end"). You will be prompted to insert a blank cassette so you can record all your data onto tape. Do not use your program cassette for this. Also make a backup tape at this time, it's a lot of work to retype data! Now you can try the other program features without fear.

Tips and Hints

Every printer is different. The Atari 822, or other thermal printer (such as the Alphacom), does not have ready-made label paper. You can still cut and paste your labels though.

The Atari 825 printer, and certain other 80-column printers (such as the Espon), can use fan-fold labels with adhesive backs. Typically these labels are spaced at oneinch (six lines) intervals. You may have to adjust lines 7220 and 7230 of the program to accomodate your labels. LE is the variable that determines the number of blank lines between labels. If you change the value of LE in 7220, you must change 7230 so that LE equals one less than it does in 7220.

7720 LE = 2
7230 IF Q2$="Y" THEN ? #2;B4$;NAME$(105,119), NAME$(120,120):LE = 1

The Atari 820 printer does not work well with fan-fold labels because these are too thick. Try Dennison's "filefolder labels," product number 36-471, that come in rolls of 250 labels.

When you are sorting the whole file, the screen should change color each time a sorting loop is completed. This reassures you that the sort is taking place.

Abort and return features include these: the [BREAK] key is disabled to prevent accidental crashes; YES or NO prompts require "Y," anything else returns to main menu; [OPTION] aborts to main menu, even while printing, except at a prompt. [OPTION] plus [RETURN] escapes a prompt. ATARI screen editing is always available, but can destroy a screen if misused.

Load the data tape according to screen instructions and standard procedures. If there is a tape error, you must "end." The tape can take five to ten minutes to load. A tone alerts you when it is finished.

Searching for a single entry requires you to enter the name line, exactly as entered, far enough to make the search unique. Remember, the inverse video character does not function in search mode. If you have "John and Mary Smith" and "John and Milly Doe" in your file, you will have to specify the search at least through the second letter of the woman's name to call the correct record.

If one of us has goofed terribly, the anguished program will go out in a blaze of glory, which should include the offending line number. Note this carefully and study the fault. To witness the death scene, type GOTO 9200 instead of RUN. Caution: this will erase any addresses not on tape.

May you have many pleasant holiday seasons.

By Bill Lukeroth

Bill Lukeroth is a heavy equipment claims adjuster, freelance writer and self-avowed "ATARI hacker."

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