I read the letter in the Readers Write, issue 31,
relating to a user complaining about not enough astronomy programs
for Atari computers. There are a few programs available including:
Astronomy 1 from Computer Direct, 22292 N. Pepper
Road, Barrington, IL 60010, U.S.A. for the price of $5.95 plus
Atari Planetarium (really great!) from Computer
Palace, 3478 Hiway 101 N.E., Lincoln City, OR 97367 for the price of
$36.90 plus postage. This one has a 115 page instruction book. The
program charts out 1200 stars, 88 constellations, Solar System,
Halley's Comet and more than 300 Deep Sky
objects. Highly recommended.
Computer Astronomy Network, 20 Helen
St., Warren, NJ 07060, U.S.A. is a club for people interested in
astronomy on computers. There is a newsletter which relates to
various computers. Write for more information to Barry Malpas at the
above address. I am a member of this group.
I hope that Miss Lancaster will benefit
from this information and will be able to find a use for her Atari
Many thanks for the information.
Atari Planetarium is also available from Software Express in
Birmingham and we have also heard from a company called Sirius
Optics (0703 872649) who inform us that a series of programs are
planned for the ST and are due for release towards the end of March.
Dear PAGE 6,
I have recently bought a copy of
'Turbo-Basic' which is DOS 2.5 compatible and I would recommend that
all Basic programmers should consider purchasing this software.
My problem is that all my Basic programs
are in DOS 3 format and I would rather convert them with some other
method than using the cassette recorder. DOS 3 has a utility for
converting DOS 2 files, is there a utility available for converting
DOS 3 files to DOS 2.5? Any information you give me would be
The full version of DOS 2.5 has a
utility called COPY 32.COM which will do exactly what you want. A
copy is available from the PAGE 6 Accessory Shop on library Disk #36
– The XLI XE Kit for £3.95 and the disk contains several other
useful utilities. We also published a program called ACCESS III back
in Issue 14 but unfortunately this is now out of print.
3-D ANIMATOR PROBLEMS
Dear PAGE 6,
Is there an error in the 3-D Animator
listing in issue 30, November 1987? I have typed it in using 'TYPO
III' and saved it with filenames as stated, everything works until I
select 3 from the menu to animate the drawing. It starts to load the
program then crashes with 'error 147 at line 5060'.
I am running the program on a 130XE and
I have followed the instructions to the letter.
If you look at page 62 of issue 30,
under the heading 'Two Simple Rules For Animation', and read rule
two carefully, you may discover that you have not followed the
instructions to the letter. You have probably designed an animated
sequence that is more than 22,000 characters in length which thus
breaks memory limitations and then throws your error 147 because the
computer does not have enough memory to set up a GRAPHICS 8 screen.
IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT, STEAL IT
We are confessed software pirates – not
actually selling software but illegally copying it for our own use.
The question we ask is this – how can beginners build up a software
library, legally, at £10 for a decent game and £20 + for
This was exactly our situation six years
ago. We now have a library of over 400 games all obtained illegally.
If we had gone by the book it would have cost us approximately £4000
(accounting for budget games and business programs).
It would not surprise us if this letter
did not appear in your magazine (we still think your magazine is the
best to date).
The Vienna Pirates
The old controversy raises its head
once more. You should know our views by now and unfortunately there
is not enough space to repeat all the arguments. What I don't
understand is why anyone actually needs 400 games, you can't play
that many surely?. You are not 'collectors' in the genuine sense of
the word, how many people collect photocopies of stamps? You
obviously don't care about small companies going out of business or
about the long term support of Atari by the software houses. Why not
just read the reviews, try and get a look at games in the shops and
buy what you can afford? If you can't afford that many games then
you just have to accept it. Or do you steal other things you can't
afford as well?
TREE TRACING ENIGMA
Dear PAGE 6,
As an ardent Genealogist, I have just read, with
great interest, the article in issue 30 by William A. Benbow.
Unfortunately, as a beginner with the Atari I have one or two
questions which I hope you can answer. I use an 800XL, a 1050 Disk
Drive and a 1029 printer and my questions are as follows. Can the
program 'Family History' be used on my computer? Is it available in
the U.K. or must I apply to California for it?
I find your magazine very interesting, issue 30 being
the second one I have read – hence the enclosed subscription. Keep
up the good work.
There shouldn't be any problems in using Family
History on your system although, if the program uses graphics dumps
it will not support the 1029. Printed output is likely, however, to
be straight text so you should have no problem. The program is not,
to our knowledge, available in this country so you will need to
order direct from Direct Lines Software. The easiest way is to
obtain an International Money Order from any branch of Barclays Bank
for the price of $39.95 plus $10 or so for postage.
You are unlikely
to have any problems as Direct Lines Software is a small company run
by an enthusiast but it might be wise to write first with a couple
of International Reply Coupons to check the current price and
postage. Most small companies in the States are quite helpful and
are quite happy to ship overseas but make sure that they ship Air
Mail or you will be in for a long wait!
RAW DEAL FOR NEW OWNERS
Is anyone out there as confused as I am at the current bundling of a
cassette recorder with the 130XE and 65XE? I, and many other readers
I should think, bought my 800XL, complete with disk drive for £120
two years ago and have been very pleased with it. I added a 1029
printer, for £105, and can do good graphics dumps and list programs
(I even send letters to understanding friends on it). A nice little
system for £225.
But what about new owners? How will they upgrade to a
disk drive at this stage of the game? 1050's are disappearing, to be
replaced (promises, promises) by a double sided drive at £180, or so
the rumours go, but surely that's much too expensive for a disk
drive by current standards. If we wanted proof that it's the end of
the line for our 8-bits, then this must be it!
Also could anyone out there make a little box for about £50-100
which will allow us to connect the new cheap megabyte drives to our
machines? Without them we'll be forced into using ST's or Amigas.
I think I'll phone the Samaritans!
I am considering purchasing an Atari ST for business/home use, but I
am rather confused about which monitor to buy, if any. I could use
my portable colour television to begin with. What will the quality
of the graphics and text that are produced be like, and how good
will this be in comparison to the Atari medium resolution monitor
On the other hand, I could just about afford to buy a high
resolution monochrome monitor. Will the text and graphics be
significantly better? As I have access to a printer, I intend to do
some word-processing/spreadsheet work and do not want my eyes to
suffer as they have done whilst using an Amstrad PC1512 in work.
If you want to do word processing on the ST you are unlikely to
be satisfied with a TV which will not give sufficient definition in
Medium-Res used by most word processors. An Atari mono monitor gives
a sharper, clearer screen than almost all of its competitors due to
its 70Hz refresh rate. If you do serious word processing or use
spread sheets, I would not hesitate to recommend an Atari mono
monitor. If you need colour then a monitor must be considered
essential for this type of work. Atari's own colour monitor or a
Philips 8833 would be ideal. I can assure you, either way, the ST
display will knock spots off the Amstrad!
ARE REVIEWERS PERFECT?
Dear PAGE 6,
I have been a subscriber to your magazine for
approximately two and a half years and have found it to be
informative and entertaining –especially the reviews. However, it is
with one of the reviews that I must take exception.
Following an extremely favourable review of Mini-Office II, both by
yourselves and an Atari-dedicated competitor, I acquired the
software. I was particularly impressed by the claims made for "a
very flexible mail-merge facility" and "an incredibly well
integrated program". Unfortunately, as these were the only aspects
of the software that I needed, I have not found these claims to be
substantiated. The mail-merge program contains a serious bug,
already admitted by Database Software, that almost renders it
useless. I refer to a spurious character that is printed in the 21st
space of every field in the database, provided that the 20th space
is filled by a character other than a blank, when used with either
mail-merge or the label printing facility.
Furthermore, whilst the mail-merge facility allows database fields
to be butted together, the label facility automatically interposes
two spaces between fields. So much for integration!
I should be interested to know the extent of testing that is
undertaken by reviewers of non-game software prior to eulogising the
product. Having received a second copy of the program direct from
Database Software, it took me less than half an hour to establish
that it produced the same error and to run a full check on every
space in all the fields of the
database to determine the frequency of the error. Unfortunately, it
took a number of hours to work my way around to an acceptable
solution to these and other problems relating to printer paging that
I will not go into now.
Despite the foregoing criticisms of the program and the reviewer, I
have no hesitation in recommending the word-processing component as
simple to use and functional.
Nicholas J. Reece
As you will no doubt appreciate, reviewing software is a very
difficult task, especially if the programs main functions are
designed for commercial use. Sometimes the reviewer may have had the
software for only two or three days and he/she cannot be expected to
find every bug in the program( s ). Wherever it is practical,
extensive testing is carried out on all pieces of software, but time
is limited and the reviewer must estimate how long it will take to
assess the software and how long it will take to do the write up.
These issues aside, the reader must also bear in mind, that a review
is not only a test of the software's performance but it is also one
man's opinion. There is also the matter that if the producer of a
software package cannot find a bug in what is normally extensive
pre-release testing how can a reviewer be expected to find all the
bugs? In the particular case of Mini Office II the reviewer had
purchased the software himself and was obviously quite happy with
it. He had not discovered the bug you mention, and might never do
so. His opinion will probably remain the same because the program
does everything he needs.