Readers Write


Issue 24

Nov/Dec 86

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Dear Les,

Just a note to express my support for the comprehensive 'story type' reviews. John Davison's excellent review of Flight Simulator II prompted me to go out and buy the game together with Compute!'s 40 Great Flight Simulator Adventures. The game lived up to all expectations yet prior to reading the review I had not even considered it in view of the cost. I suspect that the Ultima IV review may do the same and a glance at the Going Online article indicates that a modem could also be on the Christmas shopping list.

Any chance of similar treatment for SSI's Wizards Crown which looks interesting, but is it worth the cost?

Colin T. Cooper, 



Although I had some reservations about readers interest in some of the longer reviews, we have had several letters like this so, providing our contributors can keep writing them, we'll keep publishing. Many readers complained that the short catchy reviews published in other magazines gave too little information to enable them to judge the worth of a piece of software.




Dear PAGE 6,

In the past I have seen lots of letters complaining about the DOS 3 system. Is there anything wrong with DOS 3 because I recently bought a 1050 disk drive which comes with DOS 3 and want to know if I should buy a copy of DOS 2.5?

Simon Hall, 







Dear Les,

I read with interest the letter from B. Hurst of Hull in Issue 22 on tape to disk transfer. I had the same problem and over the years have transferred many cassette programs to disk. These tape programs fall into three main categories. A) Auto-boot with no header, B) Auto-boot with a single header and C) Autoboot with multi-headers.

The first are easily transferred by commercial programs. I use the tape to disk utility in Adventure International's Diskey. The second group have custom written headers to support program loading and screen information during loading of the main program. They usually customise the IOCB (and even DCB) calling routines and often `load' using non-standard data blocks. These headers have to be modified to support disk loading and (but not always) to load the main program into RAM for transfer to the appropriate disk sectors. These headers also contain various routines for copy protection. The third group are difficult to modify and often use sophisticated byte handling/ changing routines for extra protection. With these, if it is a 'good' program I suffer the long tape loads.

To cater for the second group I use two Assembler source code routines (one for tape, one for disk) which are customised to load first the header and then (if possible) the main program. The header program is then modified and the main program loaded into RAM. The header and main programs are then transferred to the appropriate sectors on the disk. DOS cannot be used as you have to write to specific sectors, it also gets in the way of header and main program as I try to load them into their correct place in RAM. It sounds easy put like this but it usually takes 3 to 4 evenings at about two hours an evening!

M. S. Silvester, 


Didn't I say that there was no easy answer! If you can understand the above you should have no problems. If not then you have two alternatives, learn a lot more about your Atari or put the kettle on while the tape loads! I hope that some of you at least can work it out.



Dear PAGE 6,

Can you give me some advice on buying a modem? I would like to be able to contact a friend in America, access Bulletin Boards and possibly play games such as MUD or GODS. I have seen many American modems advertised in ANTIC and ANALOG but don't know if they would work in Britain. Is the Miracle modem suitable for the above purpose?

Alan Wheatley, 


Firstly forget about American modems, they will not work with the British telephone system. Most modems you see advertised in this country will do what you want, the only thing you need to check is whether they support the baud rate you require. Obviously a modem restricted to 300 baud cannot access a system which runs at 1200/75. Many modems, including the Miracle Technology modems, have switchable baud rates. Another
point to watch if you want to access Prestel or similar 1200/75 systems is that the 850 interface cannot handle split baud rates so you need another interface. Finally some systems such as MUD may require special software and if they don't produce an Atari version, then you are stuck. You will need to write to the companies concerned to check.

Probably the best system for the beginner is either the WS2000 or WS4000 modem with the Datatari interface and Multi-Viewterm, at least you will have everything you need apart from experience!




Dear Les,

There has been a lot of correspondence elsewhere concerning accessing the International character set on the 1027 printer with Atariwriter. I had no problem solving this with the CTRL-O function of Atariwriter, however, having read your review I decided to purchase Paperclip and I am now faced with the same problem! Although Paperclip has a utility to convert Atariwriter files to Paperclip, in doing so it ignores all CTRL-O codes and there therefore seems to be no way of accessing the International character set. If you or any of your readers can help I would be grateful.

Maurice R. Pearson, 


No problem! What you have to do is define your own printer driver using the utility supplied with Paperclip. There are four special keys available for you to use as you wish and you simply define one of these with the commands that you use to use with CTRL-O. Whenever you require the International character set just use the key you have defined in place of CTRL-O. You can even use another key to define the sign and have it printed with just one command! Full details of setting up your own printer driver are given in Appendix D of the Paperclip manual.




Dear PAGE 6,

Could you tell me if there are any programs for the 800XL which will enable you to define electric/electronics symbols to design circuit diagrams and then save them on disk or dump them to an Epson printer.

Andrew Evans, 


I don't know of any commercial programs, but if you learn how to redefine the character set, you can easily create you own symbols. By using a character set editor and a screen dump utility there is no reason why you can't get excellent results, but it will require some programming knowledge on your part. There are several public domain utilities available which would help. An alternative, depending on what printer you have, is to redefine the characters in the printer although this would make actual design on the screen much more difficult. It can be done, maybe another reader has written a program that exactly fits the bill?



Dear Les,

I must agree with Alan Horner in Issue 21. I am 60 years old and having bought an 800XL some time ago was horrified by the lack of information given by Atari. I found PAGE 6 at issue 13 and since then it's been so much easier. People like myself have no-one to turn to for help and information, if we were of school age we could turn to teachers or other youngsters with whom we could swap knowledge and learn, but being older we rely on magazines such as PAGE 6.

I have learnt from your reviews and excellent contributors. I am now using a 130XE and Superscript and have bought a 1027 printer. I would have liked a better quality printer but what Interface do I need? What is a Printer Driver? Is it possible that one of our friends who contribute so much for our knowledge and pleasure could advise us on hardware, peripherals and such things with a series of articles?

Thank you for your efforts on our behalf, we do appreciate them.

C.P.Ashmore, Gosport

There are still many, many things that Atari owners would like to know about as illustrated by this letter. Unfortunately many articles, especially those which advise on and compare different third party products, are extremely time consuming and often difficult to get together. Few people have access to more than one printer. We would love to print comparative articles but don't have the resources to spend a couple of weeks in preparing just one article. If any readers have access to a friendly retailer or the like who could provide information about different printers and they feel confident in writing an accurate and detailed report we would be delighted to publish it. Any offers?



Dear PAGE 6,

Could I just ask you one favour? Do you know where I can get a copy of the Technical Reference Notes for the 800XL. I need them for details of the parallel bus, but I have been informed that the book is out of print. So much for Atari's continued support of the 8 bit machines.

Jim Darnill,

I am not sure whether the XL version of the Technical Notes was ever in print! It was certainly mentioned when the XL came out and, whilst certainly prepared for publication, I do not believe that copies were put on sale. The only reference that has been published on the parallel bus as far as I am aware is a four part article in ANTIC which commenced with Vol.3 No.9. If you can get hold of these magazines, your problems should be solved.
As a matter of interest I have been told that the Technical Reference Notes for the 400/ 800, which are entirely relevant to the XL/XE, have been republished and are available from Atari although they don't seem to be pushing them very much. Ask Atari or your dealer (persistently) if you can buy a copy.



Dear Sir,

In the past I have found it quite difficult to shake the screen with text or graphics to create a good earthquake effect, but after reading your articles on Display List Interrupts, I found a short routine to softly or violently shake the screen, so I would like to share it with other readers.

By changing the last digit in the POKE statement, you can change whether the screen shakes very softly or violently.

Mark Bedford, 

Warley, W. Midlands

10 GRAPHICS 0:POKE 752,1
20 DL=PEEK(560)+256*PEEK(561)
25 POKE DL+1,21:GOSUB 40
30 POKE DL+1,53:GOSUB 40
35 GOTO 20



Several readers responded to Cliff Winship's letter in the last issue about problems of loading an object listing with the Atari Assembler Editor. Many enclosed a copy of a letter from one Matthew Jones of Atari and Matthew himself dropped the information into our Mailbox. So here it is.

All references to CLOAD in the manual should be replaced with the following program

100 TRAP 260
110 OPEN #3,4,0,"C:" 

120 GET #3,X 

130 GET #3,X

140 GET #3,X

150 GET #3,Y

160 ADSTART=256*Y+X 

170 GET #3,X 

180 GET #3,Y

190 ADEND = 256*Y + X


210 GET #3,X 




250 GOTO 140 

260 CLOSE #3 

270 END

The program is presented for ease of understanding but can of course be condensed to a few lines providing the GOTO references are amended.