Readers Write


Issue 32

Mar/Apr 88

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Dear Sir,


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 postage.


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 in astronomy.


Bob Lussier

Burnaby, B.C.



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 gratefully accepted.


A.P. Gosney

Rainham, Kent.


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.




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.


Paul Thomas

Rednal, Birmingham


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.


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 utilities/business software?.

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?



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.


Ron Bidwell

Littleport, Cambs.


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!




Dear Sir,

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!

Richard Martin

Acton, London



Dear Sir,

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 colour 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.

I.J. Ackery

Downend, Bristol

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!



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

London E18

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.