July 1987 MAGazine Volume 3 Number 7

Table Of Contents

Club events and updates

July's Calendar of Events

Saturday July 11 1:00 PM - The Memphis Amiga Group's general meeting will be held at the State Technical Institute at 5983 Macon Cove in the meeting room of the Mid-south Microcomputer Resource Center on the second floor of the Freeman Building, (between the library and the cafeteria). for more information about the meeting please call Audrey at (901) 755-4641.

Saturday July 18 1:00 PM - The Hardware SIG's next meeting will be held at Mike Leeson's home. Topics will include ram expansion, and a SCSI interface project. For more information about the meeting please call Mile at (901) 794-1465.

Hardware Sig News

The Hardware Sig met at Ron and Audrey McCalla's house on June 20th. Most of the discussion centered on the choice of video digitizer and camera for the Club's lending library. The choices of the Digi-View would be the best choice at this time.

Mike Leeson has completed his circuit design to add two more disk drives to your Amiga, and research is nearly completed to determine the prices for the drives, cases and power supplies. The approximate cost for the materials will be about $250 or less, for a 2-drive package. If you are interested, please contact Ron or Audrey at the general meeting, or give them a call.

Graphics Sig News

The Graphics Sig met at Ed Bilson's home on June 6th. Use of the public domain Ray Tracing program was the main topic. The group plans to begin a project of developing an animated-type Ray Trace demo. Ed provided copies of the documentation for the program, and there was general discussion of how to begin the project. Since this was the first meeting of the Graphics Sig, the group elected Ed Bilson to be Chairman.

Due to the holiday, there will not be a July meeting, but we plan to meet the first Saturday of August. Contact Ed for more details.

New Amiga Sightings

by Ron McCalla

We've seen the Amiga in some pretty strange places in the one and a half years since its introduction: on Miami Vice, Amazing Stories, Our House, PBS' Nightly Business Report, a kiddie show, and even a music video. But now its been seen in the most unusual place of all: in an AD in InfoWorld Magazine.

I know its hard to believe. Commodore actually advertising the Amiga in a publication that reaches tens of thousands of executives across the country, but its there. A full page ad directed at computer dealers praising the salability of the Amiga over the Mac. Check it out. Its in the June 1st issue of InfoWorld, page 83.

Presidential Prose

by Audrey McCalla

At our June general meeting several items of business were discussed. The primary thrust concerned spending some of the Club's funds on hardware for a new lending library. The consensus was that the first purchase should be a video digitizer and camera. The Hardware Sig agreed to review the various products available, and make a recommendation at the July general meeting. Funding of this and future purchases was discussed with the suggestion that an assessment of approximately half the purchase amount be equally divided among all members, with the remaining portion of the purchase price coming from the treasury. The treasury would then be reimbursed with a small rental fee for the use of the equipment.

Additional business topics included the reduction of blank disks' price to $1.50. The Club library disks' price will be increased to $3.00.

In the remainder of the meeting Broadus Weatherall demonstrated the graphics adventure game Alien Fires, Charles Williams illustrated the use of TV*TEXT for making video titles, and Tim Grimes introduced The Faery Tale Adventure, a highly graphic D & D game. As always, we wish to thank these folks for sharing their opinions and expertise with us.

All of the above demos were done on an Amiga 500 loaned to us by ComputerLab of Memphis. The Amiga 500 is fully compatible with the 1000, is expandable to 1 meg of memory, and is more compact. Thanks to Jim Walton for allowing us to get a first hand trail of the first Amiga 500 in town.

Well, hope everyone has a nice Fourth of July, and we'll see you at the general meeting on the 11th.

TEACH AN OLD DOG

By STEVE GAINES

Here is an assortment of neat AmigaDOG tricks, most of which concern use of startup sequence files. Some of these I've discovered on my own and others are modifications of what others have found. Most are not really documented very well in the books I've seen.

1) When using the PATH command it defaults to:

Current directory
C:

If you ADD to the PATH it arranges the PATH in the following order:

Current directory
SYS:SYSTEM
C:

Notice where the ADDition was placed. This is automatic and you have no control over this arrangement. Because of this even if you are CD'd to RAM and have a RAM disk operating for your normal C directory commands, AmigaDOG will still access the disk drive to look for these commands, albeit briefly. This is due to the fact that AmigaDOG must follow this PATH sequence in looking for any command issued. To get around this use the following example trick:

PATH RAM:C SYS:SYSTEM ADD

This will result in an order as follows:

Current directory
RAM:C
SYS:SYSTEM
C:

NOW, if we are CD'd anywhere but the disk drive, there will be NO access of the drive at any time!

2) Now that I've given you the rule, I'll give you one exception! The EXECUTE command ALWAYS looks first at SYS:S directory then follows the normal AmigaDOG rules. Due to this quirk, you can place any batch files to EXECUTE in your SYS:S directory and no matter where you are CD'd AmigaDOG will find the file to EXECUTE it!

3) When using the COPY command to move a large number of files (as when setting up a RAM disk) it is approximately 40% faster if you invoke the QUIET parameter: COPY DF0:C RAM:C ALL QUIET.

4) Judicious use of the WAIT command can make your batch files such as startup sequence run far faster and smoother. The WAIT command is used with a time (in seconds) and tells AmigaDOG to WAIT the specified time before EXECUTING the next line. This is especially useful when a command has to be accessed from the drive as it may be still EXECUTEing when AmigaDOG starts execution of the next line. This can result in drive thrashing which is time consuming and noisy. See the example startup sequence below for examples. By judiciously setting the WAIT times, you can arrange it so that a command will be just complete when the time is WAITed and the next line begins execution.

5) Speaking of WAIT, another use is shown in the last three lines of the example. Notice the line WAIT 1+. The + concatenates this line to the next so that they EXECUTE together. By doing this, the ENDCLI > NIL: will actually EXECUTE before the NEWCLI is opened so that the Workbench screen comes up with a CLI open that is the Number 1 CLI. Otherwise it would be the number 2 CLI. This doesn't really matter, I just find it more aesthetically pleasing.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: After talking with Steve, I added some comments to his sample startup sequence below.]

MOUNT VD0:  ;MOUNTs a reset protected Virtual (Ram) Disk 
READ-RTC  ;reads Steve's battery backed clock
IF NOT EXISTS VD0:C
MAKEDIR VD0:C
COPY C: VD0:C ALL QUIET
ENDIF
VD0:C/ASSIGN C: VD0:C
AnyTime;  commercial color set util. (same as PD PopColours)
VD0:C/WAIT 3
VD0:C/CD RAM:
VD0:C/PATH VD0:C SYS:SYSTEM SYS:UTILITIES
VD0:C/RUNBACK SYS:SYSTEM/ConMan -c -q;  CLI scroll & edit utils
VD0:C/WAIT 2
VD0:C/RENAME VD0:C/Ram.info VD0:Disk.info
VD0:C/COPY VD0:Disk.info RAM:Disk.info
VD0:C/TEST Ericb2.font;  istalls Steve's favorite font
VD0:C/RUNBACK SYS:SYSTEM/RSLClock131S s f color 3,2, h 1 df1: "RUN" duIII"
VD0:C/WAIT 3
VD0:C/RUNBACK SYS:SYSTEM/Facc; new ASDG floppy speedup (June MAGazine)
VD0:C/WAIT 3
VD0:C/LOADWB
VD0:C/RUN WAIT 1+
VD0:C/NEWCLI "CON:0/170/640/30/   AmigaDOG   "
VD0:C/ENDCL > NIL:

Norton's View

By GENE NORTON

Anyone who programs in Amiga Basic might want to check out the July-August issue of INFO magazine. It contains 3 ErgCards (tm) devoted to Amiga Basic commands. What's an ErgCard (tm) you ask? Well it's a Quick Reference Card with a new name. The Amiga Basic cards contain all the commands and show syntax, a description and the page number is the manual. I have found them somewhat helpful myself. Also in this issue is an interesting true story of the origins of COMPUTE! magazine along with predictions of COMPUTE!'S future demise. The editorial staff did an interesting job with this issue.

Does anyone have AC/Basic or other Amiga Basic compiler? If so PLEASE review it or let me borrow it or call me and tell me how it works (615) 526 8538.

MINI REIVEW

Dominoes

What can I say? It's dominoes. If you like dominoes and need some real competition this is just what you need. There's at least one minor flaw or irritant which is the slow boring process of watching the computer move the dominoes remaining on the playing area to another location one by one. Overall, what can I say? It's dominoes!

UNBIASED PLUG

Watch for RISK! A game of world conquest presented by The Lightning Bug Programmers Group. Coming soon to an Amiga near you.

MAGazine

MAGazine
Memphis Amiga Group
PO Box 381462
Memphis, TN 38183-1462

MAGazine is published monthly by the Memphis Amiga Group (MAG), a nonprofit organization offering assistance to fellow Amiga owners and those interested in the Amiga.

Currently, membership in the Memphis Amiga Group is available for a one-time fee of $20.

Memphis Amiga Group officers for 1987 are:

President
Audrey McCalla
(901) 755-4641

Vice President & Treasurer
Dr. Alan Schwartz
(901) 755-6622

MAGazine Editor & Secretary
Charles Williams
(501) 655-8777

Librarian
Ron McCalla
(901) 755-4641

Duck Goes Turbo

No More Holding Patterns at the Pond

Copyright 1987 by Howard Duck

Good news! The DUCK Pond is now a 40 meg board after the addition of a second hard drive. And I was all ready to fill this column with moans and groans about the trials and tribulations of running a bbs. Last week at this time I was up to my neck feathers in software problems trying to get the newly installed 20 meg drive to work with the old 20 meg drive and fido. After two days of struggling I finally had to archive the entire board, reformat using a newer version of dos, and restore the files. That finally worked. What was the slowest board in the south is now faster than ever. It was frustrating work so I hope you guys appreciate it. (Insert applause here.)

New on the board in the utility directory we've got some updates of some very useful programs like SetFont2 (a new version of a program to reset the default font), ShowPrt22 (displays iff files), and PrtDrv2 (new friendlier version of the printer driver generator program). In the games area we've added the demo version of Shanghai, help files for Starglider and Hacker II, and the pd game Cycle (similar to the light cycle game from Tron). But its the Graphics area thats gone crazy this month as two of our local Amiga artists seem to be having an art war! Tim (Burf) Burford began the contest by uploading an Aegis Images painting of Overton Square. Shane (Thunderkitty) Russell escalated by uploading Warhammer (a Robotech robot) and BearWoman. Since then its been a new Amiga pic nearly every other day. I don't know how they can turn out such great stuff so fast but I sure hope they keep it up. With our new hard drive we've got plenty of room for uploads, so if you've been holding back with the uploads now you've got no excuse!

AMIGA TRIVIA

By Thad Floryan

If anyone's interested in some more Amiga Trivia, read on ... First, expose the Workbench screen; bring the SCREEN to the front ... you know, the screen with the disk icons and the available memory in the title bar. After that screen is exposed (at least the title bar), activate the screen by clicking somewhere on it. Now this requires some dexterity.

     [F1] [F2] [F3] [F4] [F5]   [F6] [F7] [F8] [F9] [F10]

     [SHIFT]                                      [SHIFT]
       [ALT]                                      [ALT]

BOTH left and right SHIFTs and left and right ALTs must be depressed simultaneously; while holding those 4 depressed, push F1 thru F10 in sequence. You will then see, in sequence by function key, the names of all the people responsible for the Amiga.

For even more fun (wheeeee ... :-) there is another *S*U*R*P*R*I*S*E awaiting you in Preferences.

Startup Preferences. Examine the two mice near the upper right. See the buttons on them? Guess what you should do with them. Also consider running the Printer Selector gadget down and then up, or some other such inane things. First one to correctly report back what appears in Preferences' Title Bar AND the magic sequence required to invoke it may get a prize.

One big hint: there are FIVE (5) unobvious undocumented gadgets to

1. gadget is ONE (1) pixel wide and NINE (9) pixels high. It is ON the left border, at the same screen height as the "DD MON YY" display.

2 & 3. are the "buttons" on the left mouse to the left of: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 4 ]

4 & 5. are the "buttons" on the right mouse to the left of the proportional gadget that selects the mouse click interval time. You will NOT be able to see these things by doing a hex dump of either the Kickstart disk or the Preferences program ... the stuff is encoded. You must do the <RIGHT*THING> to be Bit-Blessed.

In case it's not obvious, you MUST use all five of the "hidden" gadgets in some sequence, and possibly something else, before selecting the Printer window of Preferences.

Editorial

By CHARLES WILLIAMS

First I need all the sympathy I can get so ... I almost died the other night, yes it's true. Well, actually my Amiga almost died so it's virtually the same thing, especially at MAGazine deadline time.

Let me just explain about four to five months ago I ordered and received an INSIDER memory expansion from Abel Supply (you all know them by now). It's fairly involved (for me at least) to install one of these units. You have to remove the cover, metal shielding, internal disk drive, and CPU on the Amiga, then install the INSIDER board and replace everything the way it was before. All this I did (with much sweat and aggravation).

The 1 meg of extra memory worked just fine but the built-in clock refused to function, so I reversed the sweaty, aggravating process and got my Amiga back to factory specs, repackaged the INSIDER and called Abel. They agreed to take it back (a minor miracle in itself, especially for a mail-order firm) and exchange it for a 2 meg Starboard2.

I used the Starboard2 a couple of months but got tired of waiting for the optional module that had the clock in it, so in the mean time I ordered an add-on clock called TIMESAVER from C Ltd., which also featured some macro capabilities (through Abel Supply, again). TIMESAVER worked OK except that it would lose about 20 minutes when I shut off the Amiga (yes, unlike most of you, I do occasionally turn mine off). After a quick call to C. Ltd., they determined that I had a faulty clock chip and I had to return the TIMESAVER (maybe I'll review it later after I see how this one holds up.) My new TIMESAVER seems to work OK, so far.

Back to my close brush with death. The other night I was capturing some info from PeopleLink and I got a Guru, then the screen flashed a couple of times. I breathed a sigh (dramatic pause here) and reset the Amiga, but it didn't want to reset, so I shut if off and then on again and watched it slowly cycled from gray to green to gray to green. Horrified, I thought it had died.

The next morning with my heart rate back to normal, I took more rational action; I removed the Starboard2. Finally, the friendly hand holding a disk reappeared on my screen, but the Amiga refused to recognize the Starboard2 any longer. It has since been returned to Microbotics for repair (as my luck would have it, the warranty period ran out one week before it died). You never know how much you can miss expanded memory until you have it and then lose it.