A PAT ON THE BACK
I read your editorial in issue 25 on the recent
poll conducted by PAGE 6 and decided I had to make some comment
about the reaction of some of the readers.
Obviously as an ATARI magazine you are obliged to
cover the entire range of that product, be it 8 bit or ST. I feel
that your magazine is the only publication that has a very good
balance. The 8 bit owners (such as myself) are more than catered for
with reviews, features and, above all else, great program listings.
I am of the opinion that listings are an integral
part of the learning process and are very instructive as to how a
program flows. Practice is better than theory! The utility listings
you publish are top class, gaining rapidly on the Americans.
There is, however, one small criticism. I think
that PAGE 6 should be a monthly publication because the games review
section is a bit out of date by the time I purchase the magazine.
Nonetheless, I will always look forward to getting my magazine every
I am very interested in applications and utilities
and would be grateful if any of my fellow readers would write to me
to exchange ideas etc. If you could publish my name and address I
would appreciate it.
Michael Casey, 3, St. Kevins Park, Kilmacud, Co.
for the support which, fortunately, has been echoed by many other
letters. So has that old request to go monthly, maybe one day! As
regards reviews being 'out of date' I acknowledge that much of the
software has been out for a while by the time our reviews appear but
then not everybody rushes out to buy as soon as a program is
released. Many of the other magazines hassle companies for
pre-release versions of software so that they can be bang up to date
but, whilst it is helpful to receive pre-release copies, I would
rather we review exactly what you are going to end up paying money
for. We generally review most things we get in the next available
issue so if you can be patient you might end up spending your money
May I thank you for a fine publication. Until I
found you some time ago I had a miserable time typing in listings
from other magazines that would not run. Typo 3 is a gem!
Not all my problems are solved however, for
example I would like to make an autoboot for disk menu's. At the
moment, whilst I have a menu program that will run other programs I
cannot get it to boot without typing RUN
"D: etc. I would appreciate any tips.
Also where can I get information on such things as
the Memory Map, internal architecture etc.? Perhaps you could
publish a list of reference material and where it may be obtained.
Co. Limerick, Ireland
Unfortunately you can't write your own autoboot
program just like that (well you could, it depends on how good a
machine language programmer you are!). We did publish an autorun
program many years ago but it will not run on XL/XE machines. If any
reader can come up with a nice original autoboot program, preferably
one which allows you to insert BASIC statements to customise the
AUTORUN.SYS created, we will publish it.
of the memory map can be had from Compute!'s Revised Mapping The
Atari. Expensive at £16.95 but the one book no self respecting
programmer should be without. You can get a copy from your local
dealer or even from the PAGE 6 Accessory Shop. Write for details.
Being new to computing, I think I am suffering
from the same problems that a lot of users experience, that of being
baffled by the technicalities. I can make the screen change colour,
make sounds and print messages etc. but that is about my limit!
Could you recommend a book that explains technical terms in English
not in more technical terms?
One thing that has puzzled me is how the computer
knows which group of DATA statements to read when it comes across a
line such as RESTORE 14600 + LEV * 500 (from BERTIE). There must be
something in the program to say which group is which.
Could you also tell me if there is an Atari User
Group in the Brighton area?
Portslade, East Sussex
What I think beginners need before trying to
understand the more advanced 'technicalities' is a good solid
grounding in writing in BASIC. Probably the best book for this is
ATARI BASIC- XL EDITION by Albrecht, Finkel and Brown and published
by John Wiley. Work your way through it and you will have a good
grounding on which to begin to understand the technicalities. From
there on there are dozens of books to choose from, all good but each
covering a different subject. Once you have the grounding you will
be better able to determine which books are for you.
DATA statements are read by the computer from
first to last unless RESTORE is used. Effectively, the computer has
an internal pointer showing the current DATA statement is being
read which is moved to the next statement as each one is read. It is
important to read only the exact number of statements otherwise you
will end up with Error 6 - Out of Data. RESTORE can be used to move
the pointer to any line number, either forward or back, and can
allow you to read the same data over and over. If you want to read
DATA at line 1000, for example, you need to
put RESTORE 1000 in your program just before you read the DATA. It
is also possible to use variables in RESTORE statements as in the
example you have given. The variables are set by another part of the
program. In the above example, DATA for the screen is given at
different points depending on the level. When the level (LEV) is 1
the DATA will be read from line 15100 (14600+ (1 *500)) . On level 2
(LEV=2) the DATA is read from 15600 and so on. Hope that helps a
little, but the book above will explain more.
We are still waiting for the User
Group in Brighton to send the details for our Resource File!
FIX YOUR OWN DISK
I have just fixed my 1050 drive and as the problem
is similar to one that had previously afflicted my 810 I thought I
would like to tell the world.
My 810 had officially been declared dead by an
'expert' so I dismantled it to find out how it worked. This included
removing the sprung assembly, which presses a felt pad against the
head. When I reassembled the sprung assembly, I though it seemed a
bit weak so I gave it a little extra bend. Lo and behold the drive
With the 1050 drive the symptoms were the same. On
booting a disk, instead of getting beep, beep, beep etc. all I got
was beep, (long pause), beep and then 'boot error'. I went straight
to the pad assembly and found that the plate which lifts the
pressure pad up and down did not have its full range of travel due
to the upwards pointing prong on the slide assembly underneath. I
tweaked this prong away and the pad could then reach the head. The
disk drive was fixed.
trouble is, I have no official knowledge of the working of disk
drives so I am not sure whether what I have done is right! Any
The first time my drive went wrong it cost me £20 (and that was
at a cheap rate!) to have it repaired. All the repairer did was
adjust the pressure pad. Next time I did it myself. The main problem
seems to be that the pressure pad which pushes the disk down on to
the head below gets compacted with use and ends up exerting less
pressure on the disk and therefore on the head. Whenever a drive
fails to read or write, I just take off the casing and carefully
rough up the felt pressure pad, removing any oxide that has built
up. It has worked every time.
don't even have to dismantle anything (apart from the case) but make
sure that you don't damage the head below. Try inserting a disk the
wrong way round to cover the head before getting to the pad. Whether
you do this yourself is entirely up to you (I don't accept any
responsibility for clumsy hands!) but it may be better than paying
somebody else up to £50 to do the same thing!
I have several games written for the 400/800 Atari's but can't run
them on my 800XL. Is there a program or utility to make a transfer
to XL possible?
tried a program from one of Atari's suppliers but the instructions
were so poor that I eventually gave up. Can you help?
If you use disk, you can buy a disk from the PAGE 6 library of
public domain software for £3.95. Ask for Disk #36. This includes a
good translator program that seems to work on the majority of
programs. Full instructions are included. There are, however, one or
two programs that will not run on the XL, no matter what so you
might still be unlucky. I hope not.
STARTING A USER GROUP
I am an Atari User of about five years and I've seen the dramatic
turn round in the fortunes of our common interest. I've gone from a
400 which cost me over £300 to a 130XE which I picked up (with a
1010 thrown in) for £49.99!
I am thinking of doing something locally to propagate Atari and I
really need some
advice on the pitfalls involved in starting something like this. Any
advice would be gratefully accepted. Is there an association of User
Groups for instance?
Royal Leamington Spa, Warks
User Groups in general tend to be fairly informal and rarely
conform to any set standard. It needs a strong minded individual to
start it up, build it up and keep it going and it often ends up
being a 'shepherd and sheep' situation. You need to be strong to
survive. You might like to ask someone like Ken Ward of NUGGETT in
Norwich who is one such individual who has fought long and hard for
Atari both locally and nationally. He has tried to set up a national
association of Atari users groups and might put you in touch with
others. He might also be able to warn you when to expect the nervous
breakdown! Ken's address is 45, Coleburn Road, Lakenham, Norwich,
Atari themselves have finally re-awoken to the benefits of User
Groups and may be able to give some help, but they really need help
themselves from some of the existing User Groups (see News item).
Have you had any complaints about Smartsheet? I found that it will
not handle some calculations if the results are a string of digits.
This seems to be a string length error?
Thank you for your reply on Smartsheet. Further study shows that the
when dividing two cells which gave an answer longer than 8 digits
e.g. 10 / 3 = 3.333333333 etc. In the program this would become A
and LEN(A$) would then be 10.
problem occurs in line 1270 which tries to deduct the length of A$
from 8 resulting in a minus number which subsequently causes an
error in OUT$. I amended line 1270 as follows
1270 L=8-LEN(A$):IF L>8 THEN
The program now runs but it cannot handle small numbers in E format.
REVISION C ON CASSETTE
You published a program in a recent issue by Brad Finney installing
Revision C Basic on disk. Would it be possible to amend this program
for the benefit of cassette users such as myself?
the programs in PAGE 6 will not run on my 800XL, the most recent
being FORKLIFT. Every line checks with Typo but I keep getting Error
9. I take it that this is caused by the faulty BASIC. Is there any
way round this error or do I have to get Revision C?
Is there enough call for a cassette based version of Revision C?
FORKLIFT will definitely run on an 800XL so it looks like the
problem is indeed a faulty BASIC. You could try LISTing the program
to a new cassette, switching off and then ENTERing the program
again. It might well run. If it doesn't, and you are convinced you
have no missing lines or errors, then Revision C is the only answer.