POWER WITH THE PRICE?
I am somewhat disappointed with the price of
software for the ST computers. I believe that software suppliers may
well jeopardise the growth and health of the ST computers. In many
cases the prices charged are simply too high. One of the main
reasons for people buying the ST computers is their remarkable price
but you cannot have 'Power without the Price' if the software is
If things don't change, I believe we could well
witness the slow strangling of the ST computers just as we witnessed
the same thing happening to the 8 bit computers. That was a terrible
shame. If software suppliers were not so greedy for immediate high
profit margins and went for a slower and greater penetration of the
market, the Atari 8 bit computers would be where they have long
deserved to be - at the very top of the mass market for quality home
computers. Everyone would be happy then.
I agree that the prices are high for ST
software and would like to see them come down to more sensible
levels but the argument is quite complex. The major problem is that
there are simply not enough ST's around in the U.K. to bring prices
down to the level of most 8 bit software. Many 8 bit programs (not
necessarily Atari) sell in tens of thousands but one major ST
publisher who spent over a year developing a game has set a target
of 2000 units at maximum. The product sells at £35 so you might
think that £70,000 is a lot of money but the company will see less
than half of that, maybe £25,000 at most. If they have four or five
programmers and all the usual overheads there is not much profit
left for future development, and remember it might take 18 months to
reach that 2000 target. This is just one example, although maybe not
typical. Other smaller, part time, companies could produce software
more cheaply but they are often the ones who fail to advertise and
distribute effectively and so end up with even less to live on. Like
I said the situation is complex and will not change until there are
a lot more ST's around.
DON'T MAKE US BLUSH!
Dear PAGE 6,
Congratulations. I think it has to be said once
again. PAGE 6 really is the best magazine I have ever seen. I
started my subscription about a year ago and I am still very happy
with it. Since there are no magazines for Atari published in
Switzerland I appreciate the PAGE 6 magazine very much. I've changed
to a disk subscription and although it is great to receive the
programs on disk at the same time as the magazine, I would like to
remark on something. The title screen with the plane is very well
done but the sound is a bit disturbing, at least to my ears!. Maybe
you could have a look at it? Apart from the noise, the disk is a
great pleasure each time. Together with the magazine it gives me the
only chance to take part in the world of Atari. Thank you, and don't
Thanks for the kind remarks. See elsewhere in
this issue for a contest to find a new title program for the disk.
Let's hope the winning title is a bit quieter!
PAGE 6 NOT UP TO SCRATCH!
I am a 100% Atari enthusiast. I purchased my 800
at the premium price plus all supporting hardware. Over the last
four years I have slowly gained an insight into the system mostly
through the American magazines and publications. The English
publications just do not match the technical standard and seem to be
more concerned with boosting sales of software. For instance DOS
PLUS from Analog is a superb program and worth the price of the
Now the reason for this letter is the subtle
promoting of the ST from all the UK media and the total lack of
either the ST or the 800 series in the shops where we originally
purchased them, also the price of software and add-ons to achieve a
satisfactory system. In answer to your poll, I will not buy the ST
and would like to see a magazine devoted to writing programs, not
buying them, and to fully explore the potential we already have
Burnham on Crouch
Is he talking about us? I think that PAGE 6 has
published some of the very best programs for the Atari to have been
seen in this country and many which are better than a lot in the
American magazines, but then I would, wouldn't I? And I seem to
recall one or two articles on programming, don't you? I will report
on the flood of letters supporting Mr. Wood in the next issue
Dear PAGE 6,
I wonder if you could help me. I own a 520STM and
single sided disk drive and I would like to put together a system
that will enable me to make a record of the games my favourite
football team have taken part in. This would involve all types of
games and should include such facts as competition, venue, season,
opposition, score and scorers.
What type of database software will I need? Will
it be possible to output the results from the database into a graph
program like K-Graph? I would also like to know if I will need any
further hardware, given that the database should have possibly 8,000
matches over all competitions. So what would I need? More RAM? Two
double sided drives? Hard disk? I would consider any of these if it
They certainly take their football seriously,
these Scots. A hard disk just to record your teams results??
Seriously though, you might just need a hard disk if you want 8000
records especially if they contain a lot of fields. Almost any
database will do what you want and most can output files to be used
for graphing but you should avoid those databases which are fully
memory resident as they will not hold that amount of information.
Best get something like Dbase II, or a clone, which is totally
flexible although you will need to learn how to program it. I use H
& D Base (sadly no longer available) and purchased it because it was
flexible enough to combine databases together over several disks.
This means that you can start out with a single sided drive and
several disks, with perhaps five years results on each, and then
upgrade to 2 double sided drives and, with some fancy programming,
use two separate disks as one combined database, with a total of 20
years results to each database. Later, as your database (and your
finance!) grows you can go onto a hard disk and combine everything
into one with very little effort.
It is difficult to give precise advice without
discussing the exact requirements (don't ask, I don't have time!)
but anyone thinking about a very large database should check the
software carefully. If it is memory resident or restricts the
database size to just one disk, it will not do what you want. Think
ahead, maybe hard disks will really come down in price. What would
you do if you had spent a year typing in data only to discover that
you can't transfer, and combine, it all into one database?
NOT IMPRESSED WITH THE XMM801
After reading the review of the XMM801 printer in
issue 25 I felt I just had to write. I purchased one of these
printers a while ago and at the time I was assured that it was
totally Epson compatible. I got it home and quickly booted up Print
Shop using the Epson driver and expected to see a welcome message
printed. Instead the printer just started printing a load of rubbish
and feeding a lot of paper. We went through all of the printer
drivers and they all produced the same result. Many other programs
that work with Epson printers did not work. The XMM801 is NOT fully
In addition, and with respect to Rob Anthony, the
printer does not support NLQ. Just because a printer supports double
strike does not mean it is NLQ. NLQ is made up of the printhead
first printing part of the character in outline and then returning
to overlay the dots to complete the character.
I returned the printer and got a refund and have
since heard that the XMM801 has been withdrawn from sale. Maybe it
was not as good as made out and was just overpriced?
One company's NLQ is another's double strike
and the same goes for Epson compatibility. Although dozens of
manufacturers claim Epson compatibility what they often mean is that
they use the same control characters as Epson to achieve similar
results. Many manufacturers overlook the graphics side and this is
where the 'Epson compatibles' often fall down. Caution with any
printer is the answer although I still think that the XMM801 was
good value. Does anyone know of another printer for £175 that does
not need an interface for the Atari, especially one that is totally
I understand that the XMM801 has indeed been
withdrawn but I heard a rumour that it was because Atari had
discovered another cache of 1029's that they want to get rid of!
THAT OLD POUND SIGN AGAIN
In the First Steps column of Issue 25 you printed
a tip from Mr J.E. Robinson about printing the £ sign using
Atariwriter and the 1027 printer. The problem with typing the five
CONTROL-O codes as printed is that the sign is automatically
followed by a space. It is, however, possible to print a number
straight after the sign and it is quite simple. All you need to do
is to type a zero before the 24 after the last CTRL-O and follow it
immediately (no spaces) with the value. Thus to get £50 you type:
CTRL-O 27 CTRL-O 23 CTRL-O 08 CTRL-O 27 CTRL-O 02450
Don't forget that the CTRL-O is the letter O and
the others are numbers.
still one problem though. When using the £ sign in this way,
Atariwriter fails to count it as a character. If you are justifying
or using the full 80 column width this leads to some odd effects.
Justifying with less than 80 characters gives a longer line and if
the line is already 80 characters long, the last character spills
over to the following line. Locally redefining the line length
solves the problem but is tedious. Do any readers know of a way
round this problem?
HACKER PROBLEM SOLVED
In reply to Paul Cole's letter in issue 25
concerning Hacker, I believe that when the game is completed the
headlines are sent to a printer, at least on the disk version.
I have not
yet completed Hacker but gained the above information by using a
sector editor to look at the disk. It is quite possible that when
Paul completed the game the program was sending information to a
printer and crashed because there wasn't one.
Several other readers wrote with the same comment so it may well
be the answer. If so, what an incredibly bad piece of professional
programming not to trap for a non-existent printer! Perhaps all
these 'big company' programmers are making so much money that they
have lost touch with the end user and assume that everyone has a
printer. After all they are only a couple of hundred pounds aren't
I must write to express
my thanks to one of your regular advertisers, Compumart. I purchased
a disk drive from them from them in January 1986 and just before the
Xmas holiday, almost a year later, the drive failed. I took it to my
local computer shop for preliminary examination to be told it was
not worth repairing. That was the morning of 22nd December so I
thought it was goodbye to computing until well into the New Year,
however I phoned Compumart to tell them and check the procedure
under the, nearly elapsed, guarantee.
They were very helpful
and said if I was prepared to send a cheque for £5 for Securicor
delivery and return my old unit they would send me a new one to
arrive next day before they closed down for Christmas. The new unit
arrived at 11.00 a.m. on the following day before they could
possibly have received my cheque, let alone the old unit!
I thought I would let you know as it was through PAGE
6 that I knew about this firm and maybe you could give them a
mention they certainly deserve.
Alright we give in! Every other magazine has printed a letter
saying how good Compumart are so we might as well join in! Seriously
though, that is what you call good service. If the Post Office were
half as efficient Compumart probably wouldn't even have had to
charge you for the delivery!