First Steps

by Mark Hutchinson



Issue 12

Nov/Dec 84

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After having read my advice about using 'editing' characters, I am sure that a few of you have tried this in one of the other text modes. If so, you will have found that the characters are displayed on the screen rather than perform their editing function. This is because GRAPHICS 1 and GRAPHICS 2 are specialised display modes, whereas GRAPHICS 0 is primarily used for program input, and so has full use of the editor. If you wish to save memory by not using a host of POSITION statements, the answer is very simple. Call the GRAPHICS mode that you require, then fool the operating system into thinking it is in GRAPHICS 0 by POKE 87,0. This will allow you full use of the editing facilities. The only problem is that the OS believes that it has a 40 by 24 screen to work with when, in actual fact, it has a good deal less. This is a minor problem as you, the programmer, will make allowances for it.

I am sure that some people who read this column use a NEC 8023 printer. I, and the Editor, would love to see a NEC(ATARI) user group started so that we can find out more about this wonderful graphics printer and how to use it to the full. Any offers of help to myself or Les please. For those who are interested, this is my first sojourn away from my trusty typewriter to using TINYTEXT (courtesy of PAGE 6) via the Blackthorn interface and, after a few faltering steps, I think I am doing quite well.

I recently received a letter from Paul Pratt asking about tutorials for a beginner. I think that leaving out the manuals was a terrible mistake by ATARI and I hope they change this practice for the expected forthcoming sales drive. (Some chance! Ed.) The following recommendations are only my opinion and may differ from yours according to your needs. Please, before you purchase anything (program or book) make sure that you peruse it well.

For the outright beginner 'ATARI BASIC, a self teaching guide' - Albrecht (the Wiley manual) is still an excellent choice, even if it is based on the 400/800. So too is the ATARI basic reference manual. XL guides are in short supply so, although I have not read it, 'Getting started' (600XL) - P. Goode must be worth considering. Next would come a good memory map, `Mapping the ATARI' - Compute, or the cheaper `Master Memory Map' - R Sharer. If you have not been able to afford the price of American magazines, then you could consider the series of Compute books, a compilation of past ATARI articles. Then you could progress on to the 'Technical Notes' and 'De Re ATARI'. Beware of books with games listings and programs of 50 games, you will find far superior listings in magazines.

Software is another league. Do you want a tutorial that is not hidden in a game, or do you want a game that you have to decipher to find out what is happening? The BAUG tutorials show you the how and why, then it is up to your imagination and willingness to use the information. The same goes for the Tricky Tutorials. In my opinion, the first 6 are great but the latest ones I find a bit arty and they rely heavily on machine code.

Once you have worked through that lot, you will be at the stage where you want utilities and as that is too big an area, I will now sign off.

Don't forget to write. It is your letters that provide the inspiration!

Write to Mark at BAUG SOFTWARE, P.O.BOX 10, BELFAST, BT10 0DB