DiskMAG Volume 1 Number 4 (Jan 1989) : ARTICLES / Amy_Today6.2

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                         Amy Today     
         A text-file magazine for all Amiga lovers

            Volume #6, Issue #2, December 25th                  
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                  SPECIAL CHRISTMAS ISSUE            
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Editor :  John Rydell
Writers:  Howard Owen, John Shortle, Bob Riemersma, and
          Michael Cox (Wow!  Two whole lines worth!)

Address all correspondence to:         "Amy Today"
                                       C/O John Rydell
GEnie address:  J.Rydell1              640 Willowglen Rd.
                 (#54790)              Santa Barbara, CA
                                       93105
Plink address:  J*Rydell

           GEnie discussion in category #2, topic #29
                Plink discussion in Section #2
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Contents:

1.  A Message From the Editor              John Rydell
2.  Distributing "Amy Today"               John Rydell
3.  Amiga Happenings                       John Rydell
4.  Dragon's Lair Review                   Howard Owen
5.  Arkanoid Update                        John Shortle
6.  Sheldon Leemon Speaks, Part II         Bob Riemersma
7.  GVP Controller Review                  Michael Cox
8.  Killer Demo Winners                    John Rydell
9.  Trading Galore!!                       John Rydell
10. Newsletter Trading                     John Rydell
11. Advertising                            John Rydell
12. In the Future                          John Rydell

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A Message From The Editor:

Welcome to the special Christmas issue of Amy Today.  I have
chosen to write one big magazine to take the place of issues 6-2
and 6-3.  Because of this, the issue is coming out on the 25th of
the month rather than the 20th.  This is by far the biggest issue
I have ever published.  (17 pages plus an index!)

I have now published 18 issues of Amy Today and have successfully
lost about $50 for my efforts.  If you can find someone who would
like to place an inexpensive advertisement, please let me know. 
Heck, you can buy yourself an ad and start your own picture trade
or something fun like that.  (I've gotten about 50 responses from
the trade...that would be GREAT response for a business!)

Have fun reading the articles in this issue.  There is something
for everyone--hard drives, games, interviews, and more.  Have fun
and have a joyous Christmas and a great New Year!

           John Rydell
            (Editor)

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Distributing "Amy Today":

Amy Today is file-based magazine which has been copyrighted by
John Rydell.  I am allowing everyone to freely distribute it as
long as they give credit to Amy Today for anything taken from the
magazine.  I also request that the magazine, itself, remains "AS
IS" when being distributed.  Please do not modify it in any way
if you are going to distribute it.  

About Distributing:  Please upload Amy Today EVERYWHERE!  This
magazine simply will not flourish if it is not uploaded whenever
possible.  Every issue is kept near 15,000 bytes ARCed so that
upload/download time should never be a problem.  So, please, if
you have the chance spread the magazine around the country!  Give
a copy to your friend!  Keep Amy Today alive and going strong!

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Amiga Happenings:
(John Rydell)
<<Happenings marked with a '*' are taken from the Vol 3, Num 2
issue of the Oaces newsletter>>

Interfont-
Syndesis recently released their new program Interfont. 
Interfont is a program which creates 3-D text objects for
modeling programs.  It is designed to support Sculpt 3D, Video
Scape 3D, TurboSilver, and Forms in Flight.  Interfont retails
for $119.95 and users can upgrade from Interchange for $79.95. 
For more information or questions contact Harriet Tolly at (508)
657-5585.

*CLtd-
CLtd of Wichita, Kansas has released their new SCSI dos 3.0.  The
new software is for use with Workbench 1.3.  Upgrades are
available from any of the SCSI dos 2.xx and up for $20.00 which
should include a replacement chip.  <<Ed's note.  I don't know
what chip they are talking about here.  I thought that this was
only a software upgrade, but I might be wrong.>>  Contact CLtd.,
723 East Skinner, Wichita, KS 67211 phone (316)267-0202.  CLtd
also maintains their own 24 hour BBS.  Call (316)267-1222.

*Software Etc-
Software ETC. in B. Dalton bookstores have recently started
carrying Amiga software again.  This time, however, they are
carrying newer up-to-date titles usually at a 10% discount off of
list price.  If you were a regular customer of Software Etc., you
recently got a holiday 1988 catalog.  In it are discount coupons
for use in December and January.  If you did not get one, just
ask for one because you can get an ADDITIONAL 20% off the regular
price of any one item in the store between now and December 24,
1988.  <<Ed' note.  I mentioned this last issue but now it is
official.>>

*Amiga Package-
There is another Amiga 500 package deal available.  For $1,229
from CMO you can get The Amiga 500, 1084S Stereo Monitor, and
$500.00 (retail) software package including Money Mentor, Ferrari
Formula 1, TV Text, Graphic Studio, and Textcraft AND a FREE
Video Cassette Recorder.  There is also an Amiga 2000 deal
available.  It includes the 2000, 1084 monitor, Aegis "Video
Titler", Aegis "Video Scape 3D", EA's Deluxe Video V1.2 for
$1,999 from CMO.  (Ed's note.  I assume CMO stands for Computer
Mail Order.)

*Dos2Dos Update-
Central Coast Software has recently released an upgrade to its
Dos 2 Dos disk utility software, which allows the reading,
writing, and formatting of MS-DOS and Atari ST (Gem) disks.  The
current version now supports MS-DOS partitions on hard-disks
networked with Amiga's either through LANs (local area networks)
or through SCSI devices.  There is also new support for lower
case filenames and wildcard copying to and from the MS-DOS disk. 
To upgrade, sent $15.00 plus your original disk to Central Coast
Software.

The following is a list of some of the newest titles that have
been released this year.  Some of were actually released a while
back, but, none-the-less, they are fairly new:

<<List taken from Volume III, Number II issue of Oaces>>

-GOMF Button is an extension of the popular GOMF "Get Outta My
Face" software program.  GOMF helps recover from GURUs rather
than crash.  With the button you can now save the data even after
a crash.  List Price $69.95 from Hyptertek/Silicon Springs.

-Pc-Elevator 386 is an MS_DOS accelerator card that is compatible
with the A2000 Bridgeboard.  It turns your 8088 based 4.77 MHz
bridgeboard into a 16 MHz 80386 based computer.  From Applied
Reasoning Corp., it retails for $1795.00.

-LazerXpress is the new laser printer from CLtd.  This unit comes
with plenty of software.  It can print up to 8 pages per minute
and does a magnificent job on graphics.  Suggested retail is
$2,500.00.

-Perfect Vision has a real time digitizer.  It supports all
Amigas and does color or black and white (b&w at 1/60th of a
second).  Suggested retail is only $249.95.

-Flicker Fixer is a de-interlace card for the Amiga 2000 only. 
This board will provide a quality display for word processing or
CAD use that rivals VGA or Mac II quality when used with a
multisync monitor.  Available for $595.00.

-Another board that is available for all Amigas is the Processor
Accelerator.  This board is designed to speed up the Amiga from
7.14 MHz to 14 MHz.  It is advertised as an inexpensive MC68010. 
It has a socket for an optional math co-processor to get even
more speed.  Creative Microsystems offers the board for $199.95
retail.  <<Caveat Emptor!  If you have an Amiga 2000 and a hard
drive, please be advised that this board DOES NOT WORK! with
CLtd, GVP or Seagate hard drives.  You will be able to use the
computer and hard drive but the first time you access 14 MHz --
INSTANT CRASH!  The hard drive manufactures point the finger at
CMI and CMI says it is the hard drive companies' fault.>>

Finally <Taken from the same issue> here is a list of what
"Oaces" calls "some of the Best Games of 1988".

In alphabetical order:

AAARGH!               -  Arcadia/EA        - $34.95
Arkanoid              -  Discovery         - $29.95
Battle Chess          -  Interplay         - $49.95
Bubble Ghost          -  Accolade          - $34.95
Capone                -  Actionware        - $39.95
Captain Blood         -  Mindscape         - $49.95
Earl Weaver Baseball  -  Electronic Arts   - $49.95
Ebonstar              -  MicroIllusions    - $49.95
Empire                -  Intersel          - $49.95
Faery Tale            -  MicroIllusions    - $49.95
Fire and Forget       -  Titus Software    - $39.95
Fire Power            -  MicroIllusions    - $24.95
Flight Simulator II   -  SubLogic          - $49.95
Hardball!             -  Accolade          - $44.95
Hunt for Red October  -  DataSoft          - $39.95
Obliterator           -  Psygnosis         - $39.95
Ports of Call         -  Aegis             - $49.95
Roadwars              -  Arcadia           - $34.95
Rocket Ranger         -  Cinemaware        - $49.95
Stellar Conflict      -  Par Software      - $39.95
Under Fire!           -  Avalon Hill       - $34.95
Univ Military Sim     -  Rainbird          - $49.95
Who Fmd Roger Rabbit  -  Bueno Vista       - $44.95
Vampire's Empire      -  DigiTex, Inc.     - $44.95
Zoom!                 -  Discovery         - $29.95

Amiga Happenings is a column dedicated to giving you information
on what is happening in the Amiga community.  Some of the
information could possibly be wrong due to the fact that I am
trying to get early information.  I do not in any way guarantee
that the information will be accurate although I will try my
hardest to protect the innocent.

>>If you have some new information you would like to share please
submit it to Amy Today.

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Dragon's Lair Review:
(Howard Owen)

Don Bluth's Dragon's Lair is distributed by ReadySoft and retails
for $59.95. 

I always thought that the arcade version of Dragon's Lair was a
waste of money.  It had something to do with the arbitrary nature
of the puzzles.  Why pour quarters into a machine simply to
figure out which way to pull the joystick or when to push the
fire button? Besides, the real appeal of the game was the
graphics, and finding out what came next, both of which you could
get watching some puerile youth feed the game with his parent's
hard earned copper-nickel alloy.  It therefore came as quite a
surprise to hear an irresistible siren's song emanating from a
copy of "Don Bluth Dragon's Lair" on the shelf of my local
Software Etc. store.  "I have insanely great graaaphics" sang the
software.  "Quiet!" I retorted, "You take over the machine and
won't work with my hard disk. " "I have a hi-res mode that will
knock your sooocks off" sang the software.  "Get thee behind me!"
I commanded, "You are too expensive. "  I'm discounted a whole
entire 5 perceeent" sang the software.  "I'll take it!" I said in
abject surrender.  So what if I hadn't got any Christmas shopping
in?

Getting the game home, I proceeded to open the package.  Dragon's
Lair comes on six floppy disks, accompanied by a little two page
instruction sheet.   The cover of the package states "For the
Amiga A500/A2000 with 1 Mb, A1000 with  512K. " This rather
peculiar requirement arises from the fact that the game uses the
256K of "writable control store" or kickstart RAM in the Amiga
1000.  Using this memory allows the game to run on a stock Amiga
1000.  This is only possible because the game ignores the Amiga's
own operating system; otherwise it would need the routines stored
in the WCS.  In addition, the game does not use Amiga DOS, but
instead relies on a custom loader written by the developers.  Why
they bypassed the Amiga's multitasking operating system is a
matter of speculation.   On the one hand, they probably gained a
great deal of speed loading animation data from the floppy
drives.  On the other hand, copy protection is a lot easier when
you trash the host computer's operating system.  Going directly
to the hardware has other consequences, as we shall see. 

Starting up Dragon's Lair is simple: put disk one in DF0: and
boot away.   The instructions state that "The game will recognize
as many disks as are connected. " I was a  little worried that
this would not apply to the external floppy on my A2000. 
AmigaDOS configures this drive as DF2:.  Since I don't have an
internal DF1:, I thought this might give Dragon's Lair some
problems.  Fortunately though, the game had no problem with my
configuration.  Perhaps that is one slight benefit of dropping
the supplied DOS in favor of a custom loader.   However, one big
drawback to doing that is the impossibility of loading the game
on a hard disk.  Readysoft says they "support" the Comspec SCSI
controller and drive, but you need to give the game a dedicated
partition of ten megs!  This requires reformatting the disk to
load the game.  Not my idea of support!  The custom loader is
quite fast, although I can't help wondering how much faster the
game might load from my hard drive with the fast file system. 
Yes, I know most people have only floppies, but if they hadn't
ignored Amiga DOS, then everyone could have been happy, including
hard disk owners. 

In any event, it wasn't long before I was watching Dirk the
Daring glance suspiciously to his right and left.  As he turned
to stride purposefully toward the castle gate, I was feeling a
trifle overwhelmed.  There were too many astonishing elements in
the scene that was unfolding in front of my eyes.  The  animation
was smooth and realistic.  The scene appeared crisp, with a
minimum of "jaggies."  The image filled the entire screen from
top to bottom.  This game was done in overscan! Pressing the "H"
key yielded another surprise.  The digital soundtrack fell
silent, and the screen shrank to about a quarter of its  original
size.  in this smaller area, an image sharper and clearer than
any I  had ever seen on my Amiga before appeared! A bare trace of
flicker betrayed the use of interlace in the ultra high
resolution display.  I sat back and cheered!  As a result, I was
eaten by the slimy monster at the bottom of the castle's moat.  A
trivial price to pay for the privilege of seeing the opening
sequence!

After getting over my initial astonishment at the sheer technical
artistry of Dragon's Lair, I settled in to enjoy the game.  As in
the original version, the controls are simple.  The four
"cardinal" directions on the joystick, and the fire button are
the only options for control.  The key to the game is knowing
WHEN to push the appropriate widget.  Since I hadn't given in to
the urge to fill the arcade version with quarters, I never
memorized the sequences needed to get through the various
screens.  This left me in a neophyte adventurer's position with
regard to the Amiga version.  I found that at first, the wait for
disk loading was tolerable.  As I progressed beyond the first few
screens, however, I found myself becoming more and more impatient
for the next scene (which I had seen before) to load.  Another
feature which I sorely missed was a pause button.  I KNOW it
wasn't present in the arcade version, but this is HOME computer
software.  Come on, guys!  Other than that, I found myself
experiencing a profound sense of deja vu.  Although the game is
supposed to contain a few differences from the arcade version, it
IS Dragon's Lair, digitized frame-by-frame from the original.  It
has all the strengths, and all the weaknesses of the arcade
version.  If (like me) you were annoyed by the shallow and
arbitrary nature of the puzzles in the original, so will you be
with the Amiga version.  If you were blown away by the graphics
and smooth animation in the arcade, you will be equally
astonished when you see the same graphics on your Amiga's 
screen. 

The game behaves anti-socially by seizing control of the machine. 
The Amiga's operating system is designed to allow very low-level
access to the custom  chips while at the same time providing for
multitasking and sharing of the  machine.  This approach is
unfamiliar to many game designers who are used to working on
8-bit machines.  They tend to ignore the operating system,
justifying their behavior by saying it is necessary in order to
squeeze the last drop of performance out of the hardware.  This
argument had more force when the machine in question was a C-64. 
By contrast, the Amiga is a far more powerful system, and such
measures are less justifiable.  Having said all that, I must
admit it is barely possible that Dragon's Lair may represent an
exception to the rule.  The game does some astonishing things. 
It's impossible for me to say with absolute certainty that
Dragon's Lair would have been possible without ignoring the
operating system.  All I can say for sure is I WISH it were 
possible!

In conclusion, I give Dragon's Lair a ten out of ten for artistry
and technical excellence, and a five out of ten for game play. 
If you can live with the lack of multi-tasking and hard disk
support, I'd say it belongs in your software library, if only to
show your less fortunate computer brethren what they are missing!

The preceding article is Copyright, 1988 by Howard Owen.  

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Arkanoid Update
(John Shortle)

Discovery Software recently updated their arcade hit Arkanoid. 
The new version is identical in game play to the original.  The
only difference is the addition of thirty-three new levels
(sixty-six total).  Players must select which set of levels they
wish to play (the new set or the old set).  Like the original, a
player may start on any level from one to twenty.  The new level
thirty-three (the final level) is the same as the old.  The new
levels have an entirely new set of background graphics, some of
which look very nice.  I feel that the new levels are slightly
more thought out than the original.  Some of the original levels
require too much luck to complete.  Finally, Discovery has
lowered the retail price of Arkanoid from $39.95 to $29.95.  

For a complete review of Arkanoid, see Amy Today 1.1

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Sheldon Leemon Speaks, Part II:
(Bob Riemersma)
<Reprinted from the December 1988 issue of Energy Magazine in the
Amiga Mutual Interest Group section.>

<<At our September AMIG meeting we had the honor of being
addressed by Sheldon Leemon, author of many books and columns on
Commodore computer products, recently emphasizing the Amiga
family of products.  Here is the second part of my report on
Sheldon's talk.  Remember, this article consists largely of my
own paraphrasing of Sheldon's words, with few direct quotes. 
That includes "his" responses to the questions he was asked at
the end of his talk.  I have made an effort to be accurate but it
is possible that some things may have been distorted during
summarization.>>

Now we resume after he has covered his own background with the
Amiga product line, then gone over what he knew of the computers
to date.  Here he went on about future, starting with AmigaDOS
1.4...

Sheldon talked about the recent philosophy at Commodore that is
hushing up development efforts, since people get impatient
waiting for things.  The presence of ex-IBM people at Commodore
should be taken as a good sign, since they are more marketing-
oriented than Commodore people have been in the past.  Sheldon
feels that rumors should simply be taken as encouragement that
the Amiga is still being supported by Commodore.

While Commodore had been telling developers that 1.4 would be
done by the end of 1988, this should be discounted based upon
past performance.  1.4 is geared to support some of the new
things they are doing.  The custom chip set has been both a
blessing and a curse.  Hardware and software has been advancing
to the point that the Amiga is being passed by, so new chips or
alternatives may be expected in the future.

An example of the tricks they can do with the Amiga custom chips
is the A2024 high-resolution monitor and supporting software. 
The A2024 cuts down the refresh-rate, and sends four "screenfuls"
of information at the current frame-rate for each actual screen
displayed.  The four images are buffered, or stored, in the
A2024's screen buffer in a "2 by 2 screen" pattern for display as
a single high-res image that is 1280 by 800 pixels updated one
fourth as often.  In actuality the image is only 1008 pixels wide
which is better suited to the Amiga hardware and software.  Lousy
for animations purposes, but fantastic for CAD, desktop
publishing, and similar applications.

Future developments include the "really fat" or "obese" Agnus
chip that will replace the current chip in the A500 or A2000 to
allow other hi-res modes, including 640 x 400 non-interlaced
images.  This will require a new monitor such as the bi-sync
monitor under development by Commodore or any of the multi-sync
monitors now on the market from other sources.  Sheldon
recommends that these promises for the future should not be the
basis for purchasing decisions.  Experience with the computer
industry shows that such promises take years when they're lived
up to at all.

A lot of 1.4 software improvements are there to support the newer
hardware better.  For example, the existing system fonts produce
very tiny (though sharp) menus, etc. on hi-resolution screens. 
This can be seen on the interlaced Workbench today and will get
worse as resolutions increase.  Multiple serial port support is
another issue we may see addressed by future releases, since
there is no standard presently.

Overscanned screen standards, color font support, fast file
system for floppy drives, and many other future developments are
in the works - though which will actually appear someday is
uncertain.

Sheldon then reiterated the advantages of Commodore's recent "go
slow" approach on system software development - primarily the
avoidance of massive upheavals every two years or so, where old
software becomes obsolete and new versions of everything must be
developed and purchased by the consumer.

At this point a break was declared before a question and answer
period between the meeting attendees and Sheldon Leemon.

Question:  Where is Comic Setter?

Sheldon:  Comic Setter is really, truly going to be out there
real soon.  They (Gold Disk) should be shipping within weeks
(early October?)

Q:  What else is available inexpensively besides the mouse for
drawing input?

SL:  The favorite alternative to the mouse is a drawing table,
and those being produced for the Amiga are priced like those for
the IBM computers.  They are all in the $300 - $500 price range. 
Light pens are available for the Amiga, but drawing with a light
pen is like drawing with a bar of soap.

Q:  Have you experienced booting from recoverable RAM disk with
the 1.3 version of Kickstart?

SL:  I have a 1.3 Kickstart ROM in my 2000.  That was the "party
favor" at the end of the last Developer's Conference.  I have
seen it actually boot from the RAM disk and from a hard drive. 
A1000 owners may still have a shot at auto-booting hard disk
drives, by using one of the third-party Kickstart ROM add-ons for
the A1000.

Q:  How much has the effort that has been put into "PC"
compatibility detracted from other Amiga development efforts?

SL:  I don't think that it really has.  The bridge board has been
a by-product of Commodore's activity in the PC compatible market. 
In terms of the bridge board interface project, Commodore has
gained some valuable experience they can use in other multiple
processor development in the future.  Things like drop-in
Transputer boards, a hot issue in Europe.  This concept uses
numerous processors working in parallel to accomplish tasks that
would be very expensive to do with a single processor.  I don't
see a lot of effort being expended in the bridge board are these
days.  There is a lot more work to be done.

Q:  I use the FACC II disk cache system and recently saw an ad
for another product, a disk drive accelerator.  Is this like the
old "fast load" tricks used with the C64 and 128?

SL:  That sounds familiar, but I don't know of another system
except one that lets you reorganize the layout of data on your
floppies, but it is still standard AmigaDOS format.  The fast
load techniques employed with the old Commodore serial disk drive
interface don't sound like they'd apply to the Amiga since the
Amiga disk system software is the limitation rather than the
hardware.  Something like the 1.4 Fast File System for floppy
disk will use a whole new incompatible format to gain speed.

Q:  I've been trying to do some color mapping work in high-
resolution mode and I need a better hardcopy.  Will 1.3 help me
with this?

SL:  Yes, this is precisely the kind of thing they are trying to
do with the new printer device in 1.3, since one of the problems
has been getting a one-to-one pixel ratio between the screen
bitmap and the printed image.  The 1.3 Preferences program has a
new printer graphics screen in addition to the one you're used
to: width type (width in pixels, height in pixels), smoothing,
dithering, algorithm selection, density (dots per inch) selection
for printers which support it, and many more controls and
features for printed graphics.  The best thing you could do prior
to 1.3 was to play around with margin settings until you got
something close to what you wanted.

Q:  You've been evaluating hard drives.  Do you have any
favorites at this point?

SL:  I like Supra right now, because it has an easy to use
installation program for the A2000, and it has a fast DMA
controller.  The A500 drive doesn't use the same installation
procedure, but is still a good drive.

Q:  What about hard-card controllers?

SL:  There really is only one Amiga hard-card drive right now. 
That is the Pacific Peripherals Overdrive - well, Great Valley
Products also has one but it is not a DMA device.  I like Great
Valley pretty well, and the board itself looks very well
produced, and uses a very fast drive.  A non-DMA design
potentially gives you less problems because it will not contend
with the other Amiga hardware for DMA time slots, though under
most circumstances DMA drives will be faster.

Q:  What about IFF formats?  They are supposed to be
interchangeable, but recent IFF-supporting word processors seem
to have compatibility problems.

SL:  Bit-mapped graphics are fairly straight-forward, while word
processors take any number of different approaches, with little
or no standardization.  I don't have much hope for word processor
IFF standards.  Animation is in much the same state, lacking
standardization.

Q:  Music files have the same problem, don't they?

SL:  Music files differ, but are not too hard to fudge unless
they are far apart in structure.

Q:  What about ARP?  Will Commodore ever embrace the ARP concept
and efforts to date?

SL:  ARP was started about a year and a half ago by Charlie Heath
of MicroSmith's along with Scott Valentine(?) and others who were
somewhat disgusted with slow floppy speed.  TriPOS was kind of
"grafted" onto the rest of the system, and there is a loss of
efficiency in converting data structures between TriPOS and C
software.  They decided to try to get rid of all the BCPL stuff
they could.  Their starting point was to replace all the CLI
commands which are coded in BCPL.  They now have a lot of this
done, and in general the new routines are smaller and often have
additional features.  Commodore's point of view is that it is
difficult to maintain code, especially assembly language code,
that was written outside the plant.  Much of what was done with
ARP defeats the goal of maintainability, so Commodore has not
been too keen on ARP.  They have, however, taken a look at what
has been done in ARP and other third-party software and are
adopting the ideas the outside developers have advanced.

Q:  What about viruses, in particular the ones we're hearing
about that are not boot-block resident and therefore undetectable
by the various "vaccination" or virus-check utilities.

SL:  I have not run into any of these viruses that do all these
other horrible things myself.  "Trojan horse" viruses are the
type that hide inside an otherwise useful looking program and do
their damage when you run them, rather than when you warm-boot
the computer.  I haven't seen one myself yet, but that hardly
means they aren't floating around.

Q:  What about support for FORTH, Modula-2, or FORTRAN on the
Amiga?

SL:  Excellent support is available for all of the programming
languages you've mentioned.  Multi-FORTH is a good product,
several Modulas are around, and Absoft's FORTRAN 77 product is
very good.  It was actually done by a company here in Rochester,
Michigan.  Absoft did the FORTRAN sold by Microsoft for the
Macintosh.  There is an APL now too, but I don't know much about
it.

Q:  There are so many Amiga magazines out now, which do you
recommend?

SL:  You're right, the Amiga has spawned a number of newcomers in
the magazine market.  Right now I'd still recommend Amazing
Computing, though they have some editorial unevenness, and
AmigaWorld.  Those are the main ones.  I've done a lot of work
with COMPUTE! Publications over the years, and while they haven't
announced anything yet I think you'll be seeing a disk and
magazine combination from them in the future.

After this Sheldon demonstrated a "Wheel of Fortune" game from a
Public Domain disk he is donating to our library.  The game was
done by a member of his club (Slipped Disk?).  The game includes
a cute disclaimer intended to throw off the dogs in case of any
threat of lawsuit over Copyrights or Trade or Service Marks.

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GVP Controller Review:
(Michael Cox)

<<The official name of the product being reviewed here is the GVP
Multi-Function SCSI/Ram Controller, part number: A2000-2/0.>>

After I finally decided it was time to buy a hard drive for my
A2000, I spent much time researching the various products of many
third party manufacturers.

Of the two basic types of drives available, both the ST-506
(originally designed for use in the IBM PC) and SCSI (Small
Computer System Interface - used on the Apple Macintosh) drives
can be used on the Amiga. An SCSI drive is something of an
"intelligent" device, in that it will automatically remap for bad
sectors independent of the host, and is considered faster in data
transfer than the ST-506 design. Another interesting aspect of
SCSI drives is that they are usually treated as "devices," rather
than just disk drives. The advantage of this is that an SCSI
controller will be able to "talk" to other peripherals without
having to define a new protocol. This enables one to use optical
storage devices (among other things), in the future.

Having decided on an SCSI-type drive, I looked at what the
companies had to offer. While many of the third party
manufacturers have similar products, only one offered something
that none of the others had. Great Valley  Products, of Paoli,
Pennsylvania, has incorporated a space for RAM memory expansion
on some of their controllers, effectively allowing you to save
the use of an expansion slot in the 2000. As I already had one
memory board in my Amiga, adding a hard drive controller and a
separate memory board  would normally use up three of the five
slots. With the GVP controller, I  could expand my system to 5
MBytes and still have three open slots.

In my research, I talked to owners of many brands of controllers;
Commodore A2090 owners, along with users of Supra, Cltd., and
other configurations. While the majority of these people had seen
little or no difficulty with their controllers, only one brand
stood out as being the most trouble-free. This was the GVP Impact
controller.  

I found that the Impact controller was available in three
different designs. One design is their "hardcard." This is a
controller card with room on the card to physically mount a 3.5
inch hard drive. This has the advantage of leaving your 5.25 inch
drive bay open for such things as the floppy disk drive that
comes with the Bridgeboard, for instance. No expansion memory is
available on-board. The other two cards use remotely mounted
drives, either in the drive bay or external to the Amiga (or
both). Both can support up to seven SCSI peripherals, with the
main difference between the two being the amount and type of
memory they can hold.

The controller I purchased (A2000 2/0) has sockets for 32 1 Mbit
RAM chips (256Kx4 configuration), for a total of 2 MBytes of
additional memory. This memory can be added in 1 MByte chunks, or
16 chips at a time. The other controller (A2000 1/0) uses 256Kx1
RAM chips. These are the chips that have been making the news for
the last two years (as their price to the consumer went from
$3.00 each to a high of over $15.00). Small lots of these chips
currently sell for $12.00 each. To fully populate this 1 meg
card, 32 of these chips are required. However, similar to the 2
MByte board, you have the options of either installing half (or
all) the memory at once, or just using  the controller sans
memory (and wait for the RAM prices to drop).

I felt the documentation for the GVP controller was above
average. My only real complaint is that the 27 page booklet was
actually for the A2000 1/0 model, with a 1 page addendum for the
2 MByte board. After an introduction describing the features of
the product, the booklet goes on to cover the installation of the
controller, drive and software. Additional chapters cover
installing fast RAM, multiple SCSI devices, drive partition
sizes, and SCSI error handling and correction. The controller's
technical specifications were also included.

The included installation software was very straightforward and
easy to  use. It automatically recognized my Seagate ST-277N 64
MByte drive, and offered to format two 32 MByte partitions. When
I chose one 40 MByte and one 24 MByte partition instead, it not
only formatted the drive to my specs, but also updated my
mountlist to reflect these parameters. The software will
automatically install Workbench v1.3 on the drive, and assign it
as the SYS: disk. The software I received had WB version 34.18
and worked perfectly, though I later purchased and installed
version 34.20 (the version that was officially released in
October).

The only problem I experienced was quite minor in scope. The
Seagate has its Drive Activity LED mounted directly to the bottom
of its PC board. Since I wanted to see this LED without having to
look at the black front plate (comes with the drive) sticking out
of my tan Amiga, I simply removed the black plate from the drive,
desoldered the LED, attached a 90-degree  header to the drive's
PC board, and plugged in the cable from the Amiga's remote hard
drive activity LED. 

The GVP has a couple of advantages over Commodore's new
controller, the A2090A. Obviously, the capability of having both
memory and controller on the same card is one of them.
Furthermore, while both controllers will autoboot with the new
v1.3 ROMs, only the GVP can truly autoboot an SCSI Seagate drive
(The A2090A has trouble with the Seagates because they take a few
seconds longer to initialize. The GVP ROMs take this into account
and wait for a signal from the drive before completing the
boot-up.). Both Commodore and Great Valley Products controllers
require a small partition to boot from when using the FFS (Fast
File System) format, since the Amiga cannot recognize FFS
directly from the v1.3 operating system

Direct Memory Access

Both the A2090A and the GVP controller use DMA (Direct Memory
Access) for the transfer of data. The A2090A does this by using
the internal DMA channel in the machine. This causes problems
when displaying "severe-overscan", since both functions are
handled by the same custom chip. The GVP controllers instead use
their own DMA channel to a static 4k on-board cache. This method
not only keeps data transfers fast, but by not using the Amiga's
DMA channel, it prevents any problems when using a combination of
DMA and overscan.

In the two months since I installed the GVP Impact controller, it
has run  24 hours per day, with absolutely no errors. Any
questions I had for the  technical staff were answered while I
was on the phone to them, often by  an engineer. The boot ROMs
were shipped to me via UPS Blue Label as soon  as Commodore
released their Kickstart 1.3 ROMs. I even found that I could have
obtained the same card and drive combo directly from GVP for less
than I paid to the dealer I purchased them from, and that dealer
had the least expensive set-up of those I had checked (GVP said
they even re-work the drive LED before shipping).

In Summary...

I have found the people at Great Valley Products to offer
something that  all computer owners need; great products, and
great service, all at a great  cost-to-performance ratio.

--------

1 Mbit chips vs. 256 Kbit chips

At $12.00 apiece for the 256K chips, it will cost $48.00 to equal
one 1 Mbit chip.  When they can be found. Right now, it can be
difficult to secure these particular integrated circuits. On the
other hand, 1 Mbitchips are going for around $30.00 each, and the
cost is expected to dropsometime in the first quarter of 1989, as
manufacturers meet demands for the chips created by new computer
systems such as the PS/2 line. 1 Mbit chipswere not affected by
the artificially high cost induced by our government to prevent
the Japanese manufacturers from "dumping" low-cost memory in
theUnited States. Also, companies like Toshiba are now shipping
"commercialsamples" of their 4 Mbit RAM chips. This new
technology will also help drive down the cost of lower-capacity
memory chips.

--------

Technical Specifications
GVP A2000 2/1 SCSI Controller/RAM card

- Combination 2MB, zero-waitstate, Fast RAM controller and ANSI
  X3T9.2   compatible SCSI controller. Supports up to 7 SCSI
  peripherals.

- High performance DMA data transfer to/from hard disk.

- SCSI data transfer rate up to 2MBytes/sec for asynchronous SCSI
  peripherals.

- SCSI data transfer rate up to 4MBytes/sec for synchronous SCSI
  peripherals.

- Amiga A2000 expansion bus host interface.

- Auto-configs both Fast RAM and SCSI controller.

- Sockets for AUTOBOOT hard disk driver in ROM/EPROM (can only be
  used with Amiga V1.3, or later, Kickstart ROM).  16-bit wide
  data path allowing hard disk driver to be directly executed out
  of these ROM/EPROMs.

- Internal 50-pin SCSI connector.

- External 25-pin (DB25) SCSI connector.  Macintosh compatible
  pinout.

- Power requirements: +5 Volts 5%, 2.2 Amps maximum.


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Killer Demo Winners:
(John Rydell)

The judging for the 1988 Badge Killer Demo Contest took place
just a little while ago.  Here is a list of the winners as well
as the other people who entered the contest.  All of these
animations are going to be given to Fred Fish to include on his
public domain disks.

If you wish to have a set of two disks containing the top three
demos, send $5.00 to:

Badge Killer Demo Contest
c/o Randy Spencer
P.O. Box 4542
Berkeley, CA  94704

The winners of the contest were:
(First prize this year was a new Amiga 2000 computer!)

Best Overall Demo -- "Charon" by Brad Schenck
Best Custom Demo  -- Tank by Vince Lee;
Funniest          -- "Not Boing Again" by Dr. Gandalf;
Best Sound        -- "Charon" again, by Brad Schenck;
and Best Graphics -- Tychoid by John M. Olsen.

The following is the list of all enteries and how they faired:

Tool Based Demos:

Charon                   Brad Schenck
Not Boing Again          Dr. Gandalf
Tychoid                  John M. Olsen
AmigaWave!               Allen Hastings
CUCUG                    Ed Serbe
Education
of a Young Coyote"       Gene Brawn
Asteroid Field           Michael Powell
Sail                     Marvin Landis
Stereo Flowers           P. McIntyre
Splash                   Robert de Bie
Alice                    MedioTech
Bowl                     Vern Staats
NuHand                   Bryan Carey Gallivan
Tiger                    B. Rifaux
Dogs World               Charles Voner
Heartbeat                MedioTech
History Of Computers     Robert Berryhill
Cardiac Surgery          MedioTech

Custom-Programmed Demos:

Tank                     Vince Lee
Triple                   Tom Rokicki
Multitasking             Rob Peck
Hawk                     P. McIntyre
Brownian                 John M. Olsen
Stereo                   David M. McKinstry
MemFlick                 Jim Webster
Picture Garden           Steve Tiffany


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Trading Galore:

First we had a picture trade.  Users were urged to send in a disk
full of pictures and, in return, were given a disk full of the
best pictures that had been collected so far.  The picture trade
was, and will hopefully continue to be, a GREAT success!

Because of this, I have decided to open up a new trade which
allows everyone to participate--not just those of us with
pictures.  Send me a disk full of anything you want.  (Music,
Art, Animations, Sound files, and Public Domain/Shareware
software...anything!)  Include a SASE (please remember the
stamps!), and I will send your disk back to you filled with
whatever you want.  Just tell me whether you want music, art,
software (you can even specify a specific pd/shareware program
but I can't guarantee that I have it), and I'll send it back.  On
request, I'll even send disk copies of all issues of Amy Today.

The disks currently copied and ready to be traded are:
1 - Amy Today Picture Disk #1
2 - Amy Today Picture Disk #2
3 - Amy Today Animation Disk #1
4 - Amy Today Back Issues #1
5 - Amy Today Music Disk #1**
6 - Amy Today Picture Disk #3**

**Both of these coming soon.

Send your disk and a SASE to:
 
Amy Today's Trading Galore
640 Willowglen Rd.
Santa Barbara, CA  93105

<<Any requests or submissions of illegally copied software will
be burned!>>

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Newsletter Trading:
(From Issue 1-1)

I am looking for Amiga user groups who would like to trade
newsletters with me.  Every month I will send you three issues of
Amy Today and, in return, I would like a copy of your
newsletter.  I know a lot of this trading takes place and would
love to get involved.  The more articles and information that I
have about the Amiga, the better I can make Amy Today.  If you
are interested please drop me a line on GEnie, Plink, or by mail. 
I would really appreciate a sample newsletter and will mail you
Amy Today in return.

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Advertising:

Amy Today is open to advertising at VERY affordable prices. 
Large and small companies both have a great opportunity for
quality advertising while supporting a public domain Amiga
magazine.  If you are interested please write to:
 
Amy Today
ATTN Advertising
640 Willowglen Rd.
Santa Barbara, CA  93105

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In the Future:

A review of Modula-2
A review of a CLtd 33 meg hard drive
An interview with a shareware programmer
Maybe even more interviews, also
And hopefully numerous articles from you--the readers.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
"Amy Today" is copyright 1988 by John Rydell.  Portions of
the magazine may be reprinted but the content of this magazine
may NOT be changed without the expressed consent of John Rydell. 
Yet everyone is encouraged to distribute it AS IS.  Please give
credit to "Amy Today" as well as to the individual author when
reprinting material.  "Amy Today" as well as any of its authors
are not responsible for any damages that occur because of errors
or omissions.  Articles reprinted from other newsletters, as
noted, are not property of Amy Today but are under the control of
their original authors.
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