Reviewed by Matthew Jones


Issue 25

Jan/Feb 87

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Do you work in the sort of situation where you may be working on your word-processor when the phone rings and someone wants you to give them some information from your database? Of course you have to save the document, quit the word-processor, and then load the database, load the file, and access the record. The caller takes the information, and then you have to reverse the whole process to get back to where you were, and then the phone rings again...

One answer to this type of problem is Kuma's K-Switch, a desk accessory which allows you to have two programs in memory at the same time. K-Switch is installed by selecting the K-Switch accessory at the desktop, selecting your options, and from then on your computer is split in two. The action of K-Switch is to tell the ST that it has only half of its memory (the lower half), and to use the other (upper) half to store a copy of the lower half. K-Switch is then 'transparent', and you then carry on using your ST as normal (though with half the available RAM). Now, when the phone rings, instead of saving the document etc., all you do is hold the ALT key, and press both SHIFT keys. Within a second you are seemingly back at the desktop, and may proceed to load your database. But now, when you have finished accessing the database, you press ALT and the two SHIFTs again, and you are exactly where you were when you left the word processor. When the phone rings again this time, you can switch straight back into the database.

K-Switch can be used with many applications that require fast switching between two programs. K-Switch has a RAM disk option to provide a fast way of porting data between two programs (Kuma give the example of their K-Spread spreadsheet and K-Graph charts program, where you can do calculations in the spreadsheet, save them to the RAM disk and load them into the switched K-Graph). It may cause problems with other programs that use the ALT or SHIFT keys significantly, for example a graphics demo that uses ALT to exit, but otherwise K-Switch will remember all the significant memory variables, including the screen resolution, between switches. Kuma warns that you should not be accessing the disk drive or using the serial port when you switch because they are interrupt driven and may have side effects.

When installing K-Switch, you can choose to have both the switcher and the RAM disk, or only one of them. Once installed, K-Switch will allow you to save or load the content of the switched memory or the RAM disk which means that you can save a 'worksession' and return to the exact point at a later date. By saving the RAM disk, you could restore its contents in one fell swoop, rather than copying files one at a time.

K-Switch is a very easy to use utility, and is invaluable if you are constantly loading and re-loading two programs. The main problem is with the size of memory available to each program, and you should check that each will run in half of that of your machine (less the RAM disk and accessories). On a 1040ST or larger this should be little problem as all software is being written to run in a minimum 512K.