August 1994 MAGazine Volume 10 Number 8

The August General Meeting of the Memphis Amiga Group will be held Saturday, August 13 from 1:00 pm until approximately 3:00 pm in the Farris Auditorium on the campus of State Technical Institute at Memphis.

The newsletter is published monthly for distribution to the members of the Memphis Amiga Group. MAGazine contains meeting announcements, hardware and software reviews, video and book reviews, and other information of interest to Amiga and computer users in general. Contributions are welcome and may be submitted in hardcopy or via disk in ASCII format at any meeting or you can upload to Operator Headgap BBS - (901) 759-1542 V.32bis hi speed operating CNET PRO v3.05c software. Be sure to leave a note to the sysop.

From the President's CLI

by Bob Nunn

Here are a few quotes from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"It is a fight over the company's assets, over the future of its technology, over how much of its $145 million debt will be paid and, not surprisingly when lawyers get together, over legal jurdisdiction."

"The court-appointed Bahamian liquidators so far have received at least four proposals to buy Commodore, including one from the management team o its subsidiary in the United Kingdom, the only one of the company's units still profitable when the firm went out of business"

"The other suitors are Amstrad Plc., a U.K. computer firm; Philips Electronics of the Netherlands, and Samsung Electronics of Korea."

Let's all hope the lawyers can get this settles before too many months roll by.

OS 3.1 NOW AVAILABLE?

Expert Services supposedly has OS3.1 for the A2000 for $100 for the software & rom. $150 buys the 3000/4000 system. There is no word on the 500/600/1200, but perhaps I will know more by the meeting. Call 606-371-9690 and ask for Scott Bennet.

2.1 Gibabyte Quantum for the Headgap

Most of you know I spend most of my free time working on my BBS. I have saved up enough for the big drive and got it this last week. I tried to install it but my Supra SCSI Controller will not identify it. Since it just came out I can understand that but I must enter the specs directly and have to wait until Quantum opens their doors Monday. I am also adding a cheap CDROM that I bought from Mac Mall for $99. They are also featuring the Line Link v32bis 14.4 modem for $89. These people are also known as Creative Computing but the Mac side actually has the specials and they also answer the phone. After receiving it I made them exchange the Mac software for Amiga software.

I am also adding Caller ID auto-validate feature. In the near future the BBS will automatically check the number you are calling from.

Need help learning to use your Amiga computer? Call Operator Headgap BBS! 901-759-1542 & 1543 - 300 to 28,800 BPS.

Animation Contest '94

Fresno Video Productions is sponsoring an animation contest. Categories include 2-D and 3D on Amiga, IBM/PC, Mac and Misc machines. Animations done on ANY computer using ANY software will be accepted. Animations must be sent on tape in one of the following formats: NTSC; VHS, S-VHS, 8mm, Hi-8, 3/4" non-SP. All other formats (PAL, SECAM, Etc.): 1/2" VHS or S-VHS only.

Animations to be between three (3) seconds and one (1) minute in length. All entries must be received by Oct. 14, 1994.

Prizes

1st Prize
1 500 Meg Maxtor HardDrive

2nd Prize
1 Mitsumi Double-Speed CD-Rom

3rd Prize
1 High Density Floppy Drive

4th-10th Prize
1 Animation Contest 94 T-Shirt

We will have copies of the animation contest rules at the meeting.

MAG Meetings

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) holds general meetings the second Saturday of each month in the Farris Auditorium on the campus of State Technical Institute at Memphis (see map at left).

There will be a board of directors lunch meeting at Gridley's in the formal dining room beginning at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, August 13 (before the general meeting). For more information about the location of the lunch call Bob Nunn at 901-759-1541.

Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1994

President
Bob Nunn
(901) 759-1541

Vice President
Thomas O'Brien
(901) 872-6962

Secretary
Cheryn Nunn
(901) 759-1514

Treasurer
Terry Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Librarian
Bill Bowers
(901) 360-0003

MAGazine Editior
Charles Williams
(501) 655-8777

MAGazine Printing & Distribution
Terry A. Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Disk Sales & Video Rentals

MAG library and Fred FISH disk are $2 each.
($5 each for non-members)
Quality blank disks with labels are 65¢ each.
($1 each for non-members)
Rental of Amiga related videotapes is $3 per week.
(not available to non-members)
For all this and more contact club librarian
Bill Bowers (901) 360-0003
OR see Bill at the next MAG general meeting.

For Sale

VLab framer grabber card for Amiga 2000/3000/4000 - $275
Fargo color printer w/ribbons for dye-sub, mono, & wax - $800
Call Ken Winfield at (901) 383-9559

Advertising Rates

Full Page $20.00
1/2 Page $11.00
1/4 Page $7.50
1/8 Page (or business card) $3.00

(contact Terry Campbell at 601-393-4864)

INFO

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) is a non-profit organization whose purpose is promoting and encourageing the use and understanding of the Commodore Amiga Computer. Memberships are open to all those who share a common interest in the Amiga computer and its many wonderful and unique features. Monthly meetings are open to the public and visitors are welcome.

Annual membership dues for new members are $25.00 with an annual renewal rate of $20.00. Associate memberships are available for $15.00 per year, renewable at the same rate, to those who must travel more than 45 miles one way to attend general meetings. All memberships are family memberships and dues are nonrefundable.

User Interface History

by Dan Barrett

In response to the holy gospel of: Shells are great, GUI's are greater, Finder vs. Workbench, etc...

I am getting TIRED of all you people comparing user interfaces, shells and GUI's, etc, when you all have absolutely NO IDEA what you are talking about! I think you all need a lesson in user interface history. The following text should make it all PERFECTLY CLEAR and stop these POINTLESS "shell vs. GUI" arguments for good.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF USER INTERFACES

Thousands of years ago, back in Paleolithic times, user interfaces were very primitive. They essentially consisted of a thick, wooden club that was used to "access" your enemy's brains. Simple but effective, this interface has since been adopted by the famed BLAZEMONGER "Customer Service" Department.

At first, there was little or no standardization; users had to learn entirely new methods of "access" for human enemies, mammoths, mastodons, Saber-C tigers, etc. But as time went on, people settled on two basic modes of use:

  1. Run as fast as you can in a straight line, bashing everything in sight.
  2. Stand in one place, swinging the club wildly in all directions.

These 2 modes became so popular that they were given names that have survived to this day: "Sequential access" and "random access."

This went on for centuries, with users happily "accessing" each others' bodily parts with bigger and bigger clubs, until the 20th century, when the COMPUTER was invented. Tired of crushing each other's skulls, users flocked to the new invention, eager to put their talents to new uses, like playing video games and building "Star Wars" missile systems.

The first computer user interface consisted of a large button on the front panel, labeled "0". By pressing this button repeatedly, users could "program" the computer to do all kinds of tasks. Sadly, none of these programs worked, and the scientists could not figure out why. Then, in 1962, some dweeb finally had the idea to add a "1" button, and the Computer Age officially began.

But pressing "0" and "1" buttons was not anybody's favorite pastime, so some other dweeb invented the computer terminal. Thanks to this clever device, with over 50 different keys, users were able to create bugs and cause crashes dozens of times faster than before. But at least the hardware was now in place, so it was time to address the software issues of user interfaces.

First, there was the command-line interface. This allowed users to type a line of text representing a "command", press the RETURN key, and receive a response like "0x38754: ERROR_NOTEXT_PETUNIA". Thanks to this handy software tool, the suicide rate rose almost overnight.

But in the mid 1970's, the clever folks at AT&T invented the UNIX "shell". This was a SIGNIFICANT advance over ordinary command-line interfaces, as the following example shows:

ORDINARY COMMAND-LINE INTERFACE:

type myfile
0x9852: ERROR_FILE_LA-TOSE_AN-AL

UNIX SHELL:

$ cat myfile
Segmentation fault - core dumped

For many years, command-line interfaces dominated the computer market. Smart computer buyers began to compare the power of different operating systems by how much they let you tailor the command-line prompt. For example, my friend John would only use computers that let him set the prompt to: Suction? Nobody knew why. Eventually, John was given a job in the Federal Government.

But these years of happy command-lining were fated to end. Behind the scenes, those clever folks at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto useR interfaCes) were creating a completely graphic user interface. We modern computer users are familiar with windows, icons, and clicking, but the first attempts at Xerox PARC were quite different from this. For example, the early version of the "mouse" was shaped more like a semi-automatic machine gun. To select an icon, users would point it at the screen, click the button, and blast the icon to pieces. This was great fun, and kept the Xerox programmers amused for months. Eventually, the Xerox hardware engineers developed a device more like the modern mouse, and the programmers used that instead -- point, click, and the icon blows up. Alternatively, you could drag the icon around the screen, smearing blood and guts all over the place.

After a few years of fun and games, some dweeb at Xerox PARC finally had the idea that the icons could be used to represent FILES. WOW!!! The world had many responses to the Xerox breakthrough. Computer users congratulated Xerox for this brilliant manuever. The President of the United Nations pinned a medal right on the Xerox building! And Apple Computer stole the idea outright and created the Macintosh.

The "Mac" truly brought computing power to the common people. Even the most naive, ignorant Mac user was able, with a simple mouseclick, to cause a spectacular crash. This same philosophy has stayed with the machine through the years. The most recent operating system version is called "System 7", which to me sounds like a bad science-fiction TV show, and it has many new and exciting features. One of the most novel features is the "Help Balloon" mode, which allows the user to see what anything on the screen is thinking to itself. Unfortunately, most computer icons and menu items are very boring thinkers, so the balloons usually say things like "I wonder when the user will click on me" or "Will you PLEASE move me away from the 'HyperMoose' icon -- it smells really bad!"

In 1985, two new machines with GUI's appeared on the market: the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga. The ST's graphic user interface is called "GEM", which stands for "Graphic User Interface". Although initially popular, the ST has died a slow death, partly due to operating system bugs, such as the infamous "40 folder limit". If the user tried to create more than 40 subdirectories inside a directory, Jack Tramiel would come to his house and whack him on the head with a thick, wooden club. This caused permanent brain-damage in may ST users, and they can still be found to this day saying things on the Net like "Tramiel is God" and "Amigas can't multitask".

The Commodore Amiga was introduced with version 1.0 of its system software. This combined a great CLI, a great GUI, and the awesome ability to crash 12 times per hour. Following this success, versions 1.1., 1.2, and 1.3 were released rapidly over a short period of only 25 years.

But the real Amiga breakthrough came with the introduction of Amiga OS 2.04. Originally, this was available only on Amiga 3000's sold in Albania to certified developers who knew the secret password and Marc Barrett's social security number; but after a mere 400 years, it was made available to the public.

OS 2.04 was the first version to make the GUI "Workbench" truly usable. In previous versions, dragging an icon with the mouse required the user to hold down seven or eight different keys simultaneously while dancing the "Funky Chicken". In addition, not all files had icons, meaning that the Workbench could not access them. But thanks to version 2.04, every file now has over FOUR HUNDRED different icons, for a totally streamlined and efficient interface.

SHELLS VS. GUI'S

With both shells and GUI's now in existence, each has its fans and enemies. Proponents of GUI's say they can do ANYTHING as well as shells can. In fact, street corners in major cities are often occupied by these people, stopping random folks as they pass by, and saying things like "I can do that in FEWER than THREE mouse-clicks!!" Currently, there is legislation pending that will make such comments punishable by heavy fines and/or death.

On the other hand, proponents of shells say that GUI's are a waste of time. They commonly cite examples like the "delete wildcard" problem. From birth, all shell users are able to type ridiculously complicated "delete" commands like the following:

1> delete #?.(a|A?)*2^5%%.*vavoom!

which says, of course, to delete all files named #?.(a|A?) *2^5%%*.*vavoom! "Let's see you do THAT with a GUI!" they cry. The GUI users are silent about this, mainly because they are all out doing useful work instead, like blowing up icons with a mouse.

In any event, most people today admit that the ease-of-use of a shell FAR exceeds the "thick wooden club" interface of Paleolithic times. But designers haven't stopped working on the problem of friendlier and more useful interfaces. So now we have...

MORE MODERN USER INTERFACES

Extended keyboards. Touch screens. 5-button joysticks. Virtual reality. MIDI synthesizers. Light pens. Cardboard boxes. Hand grenades. Canned tuna. Vaginal warts. All of these concepts have affected the way people use computers. Thanks to modern research, many new and "hybrid" interfaces have been developed. The following is a brief description of some of the more interesting ones.

(1) Point 'n hit-return

Clicking on the icon inserts text into the command line, which can then be edited. Press RETURN when done.

(2) Type 'n click

The user types a command. Every key pressed on the keyboard causes an icon to be displayed on the screen. When finished typing, drag select or double-click the entire set of icons. Or just drag them into the trashcan... whichever is more efficient.

(3) Point 'n spit

Instead of a mouse, the user chews a large wad of tobacco or a small, dead animal. To activate an icon, merely spit at the screen.

(4) The pepperoni pizza interface

The screen contains an image of a large pizza. The crust represents the operating system, the cheese is the windowing system, and the toppings are the individual files. Using a digital pizza cutter, the user hacks off a piece of the pizza and deposits it into an onscreen "mouth" which then digests the information. A resounding belch comes from the internal disk drive, and it is ready for the next command.

(5) The BLAZEMONGER interface

This is, of course, the ULTIMATE interface. It consists of a hunk of meat that is hurled with high velocity at a "touch screen". If it hits the right icon, the user is rewarded by NOT having his/her nipples torn off with tweezers.

CONCLUSIONS

That ends our little tour of user interface history. This should clear up all the .advocacy arguments from the past 3 or 4 months.

If you are interested in learning more about user interface history and comparisons, I suggest that you check out some of the following references:

Sunrize AD516 hardware & Studio 16 v3 software Review

by Neil Brewitt

PRODUCT NAME

Sunrize AD516 Hardware and Studio 16 (V3) Software,

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

The Sunrize AD516, coupled with the (supplied) Studio 16 software provides a complete 16 bit, 48kHz direct to disk sampling system which is capable of replaying up to eight tracks (samples) simultaneously.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: Sunrize Industries Address: 2959 S. Winchester Blvd., Suite 204, Campbell, CA 95008 USA Telephone: (408) 374-4962 FAX: (408) 374-4963

LIST PRICE

$1495 (US) dollars (according to the promotional literature).

I paid around 1100 GB Pounds as part of a package deal: AD516, Bars and Pipes Pro, and a 1 gigabyte hard drive.

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

HARDWARE

4 Megabytes of RAM required. More is recommended. 68030 Processor or higher. *FAST* hard drive; optimally, less than 10 ms seek time. One free Zorro II/III slo.

SOFTWARE

AmigaDOS 2.0 or greater.

COPY PROTECTION

None. Hard disk installable.

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

Amiga 3000/25 (Softkicked), 3.5 MB Fast RAM, 2 MB Chip RAM. 1 internal 1.44M floppies. Quantum 105 MB internal hard drive. Seagate 550 MB internal hard drive. Workbench 3.0, Kickstart 3.1

INSTALLATION

The software uses the Commodore Installer program and is extremely easy - just choose a destination directory.

The hardware (AD516) is also easily installed - remove a blanking plate from the card bay, insert the AD516 into a free Zorro slot, and replace the fascia screw. All that is then required is to plug a suitable inputs and outputs into the AD516's external connectors - 2 Audio IN, 2 Audio OUT, and 1 SMPTE IN - all RCA (Phono) Sockets.

REVIEW

Not being the kind of person to read the full manual before using stuff, I can genuinely say the AD516 and Studio 16 combination was a plug-and-go experience. It took between five and ten minutes to install the whole package, all documented well in the manual.

My first foray into direct to disk recording was surprisingly easy - a double click on the Studio 16 icon brings up a "Studio16bench" (essentially a blank screen) onto which the various modular parts of the sampling software can be loaded.

From this blank screen, there are two pull-down menus; "Applications" containing all the modules for the package, and "Project" with the familiar "About" "Prefs" and "Save Setup" options. There are around 10 modules immediately accessible, with names like "Recorder", "Mixer" and "Meters". Everything starts from here. Each module produces its own window on Studio 16's screen, and are all fully multitasking.

The first module I opened was "Recorder", which presented me with a simple front-end with two sliders ("Rate and "Gain") and four buttons ("Monitor", "Record". "Stop". and "Name"). I switched monitoring on, and started my (test tape) input sound source. With the monitor button depressed, the AD516 acts as a "psuedo" monitor, in that it actually does process the incoming analogue signal to digital (at the specific rate) and then back to analogue again on the output jacks. This is the best way for the monitoring to work, in my opinion, as it gives a true impression of how the end sample will sound/

Being too scared to sample quite yet, I opened up the "Samples" module, which presents a list of the sample paths (and samples contained in them). From this module on, I found I could set the sample paths via a pull down menu which had appeared to the right of the application menu. This, again, was extremely intuitively designed.

Having set up my path(s), I opened the "Meters" module and was presented with a "traditional" analogue meter, a digital meter, and a scrolling graph of sound level - for the imput, output, and channel one. Shocked by this, I discovered that with the use of my right mouse button (another menu had appeared) I could select any of analogue, digital, or "graph" representation for the input channel, the output channel, or any of the eight sample channels. I decided to have just a digital bar graph for input and output channels for the time being.

So I recorded my first sample. On pressing the "Record" button in the "Recorder" window, a small status window opens showing the size of the current recording sample, the space left on the device, and the start time of the sample (which said NS).

After pressing "Stop", I found the sample "Untitled_L" could be played from the "Samples" window. I renamed the sample (from the pull down menu) and them chose "edit" from the same menu, which forced the Editor module to load and open the selected sample. This was the familiar sample editing window with a number of differences - I had the option to do a few different things to all or any part of my sample. So, I "Normalized" it all. This scales the sample so that it is at maximum volume (the loudest part of the sample is represented by +32768). Then I added echo to it, and then I analysed it to examine it's frequency content.

Next I opened the "Cuelist". Here I had to pick up the manual. The cuelist looks very similar to the tracks display in Bars and Pipes Professional, and works in a similar way. A sample can be dragged from the "Samples" window and dropped onto a track in the cuelist, which can be dragged around across any number of tracks, crossfaded with other samples, and truncated and spliced ad infinitum. Along the top of the Cuelist window is a "transport" control; i.e., a Stop, Play, Forward and Backward button which performs just that function - manipulation the "position" line within the tracks. All timing within the cuelist is via one of four methods: SMPTE, SMPTE Plus (SMPTE with fractions of frames), Beats Per Minute, or Hours Minutes and Seconds. Here I encountered my first problem - It's essentially impossible to place a sample at (SMPTE) 00:00:00:00 and have it start playing from its start. The sample will be in sync properly, but won't actually start playing until it's fully synchronized (around 3 seconds). This means you must have all samples after the 5 second mark, which in turn means a five second delay every time you listen to your masterpiece.

The cuelist is a very powerful part of the package. With the AD516's SMPTE IN socket, this means writing audio-for-video is an ideal application for the package. Each track may be played solo, turned on or off, and direct recording into the cuelist is possible (punch in/out). Samples may be grouped and edited simultaneously (useful for stereo pairs), and all samples may be faded in or out linearly, logarithmically, or exponentially over any time up to 2000ms. The Cuelist has a very large time range, and I (just) had a ten hour time span visible at once, with samples all indicated in their various positions.

There is an option in the cuelist whereby the mix of the eight tracks is taken from the "Mixer" module. Within the mixer module, it is possible to record both pan and levels of each track thus allowing completely automated mixing to occur.

The remaining modules are utilized like a SMPTE generator, SMPTE monitor, clock, and various "housekeeping" utilities.

Studio 16 sports a full ARexx interface, and ARexx commands can be associated with a specific time-code as an entry into the cuelist. This could allow multimedia presentations to be played.

The performance of the hardware was as everyone had told me - very good quality indeed, with excellent convertors.

DOCUMENTATION

The printed manual which accompanies the Studio 16 software covers both software and hardware installations. It has a full tutorial section, a comprehensive troubleshooting section, and a large reference section, with a good index.

In my opinion, the manual is over-excellent, simply because I didn't need it for a long time and even then I guessed what most things did. The tutorial is excellent, and the whole manual is clearly written and well presented.

LIKES

The manual is very well planned. There is very little in terms of operation instructions, instead being more of a slightly verbose reference manual with a tutorial section.

The interface. It's easy to tell what's happening, and how you can control it.

The overall "feel" of the product. Now that I've read the manual, I realise there are several things which I didn't find out by experimentation (marking and naming of ranges within samples being a useful example) that may prove useful.

The full Studio 16 interfaces seamlessly with Bars and Pipes Professional. With Studio 16, there are two B+P accessories- an SMPTE tool to lock B+P to the AD516's internal SMPTE code, and an accessory that, when opened, gives the Studio 16 pulldown menu allowing access to all the modules on the B+P screen. A separate configuration file is maintained for Studio 16 operation under Bars and Pipes.

DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS

There are several things I dislike, though none affect the operation of the product directly as a production tool.

I'd like to see more effects. The DSP on the AD516 is underused in my opinion. There is only one effect available (with respect to "normalizing" which isn't really an effect), Echo, and I'd like to see a great many more. Compression is the sort of thing which is "easy" to do digitally, so why isn't it here? The echo is good, but why can't I echo backwards as well as forwards?

I'd like some realtime effects. A simple routine could turn the AD516 into a realtime digital delay. For a small amount of effort, a lot of return.

The sample scaling (in the Editing module) is linear - why? I'd like to specify an "envelope" to which the sample can be scaled.

The Studio 16 Installer installs a default configuration file which is for a standard 640*256 screen. No mention is made in the manual that it is possible to run Studio 16 on an overscan screen. Luckily, the author of part of the manual contacted me via email and explained that if I delete the default configuration file, Studio 16 duplicates your Workbench screen size. Such a small omission in the manual, but since the cuelist is horizontal, an extra 64 pixels is very useful.

I'd like to see a "Maximum Performance" mode, whereby the screen is blanked and multitasking is stopped, allowing the whole computer to concentrate on producing a full "master" mix.

I hear that the upgrade from Studio 16 version 2.1 to version 3.0 cost existing owners 200 GB pounds. I think that this is an unreasonable price for an (albeit large) upgrade after such an initially high purchase price for the package.

I'd like to see an official developer's kit. I think it would be nice to see a "hard/sunrize" directory on Aminet containing various utilities for manipulating samples within and without the Studio 16 environment. I personally would like such a kit so I can write a compressor.

I would very much like to see Sunrize offering technical support via the Internet.

COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

On the Amiga platform, there are two other cards wuch as this: the Toccata and Wavetools. Both are much cheaper than the AD516 but offer no facilities such as the cuelist. The Wavetools has an RTX Real time effects module which is available as an upgrade.

To be honest, I have neither auditioned nor used either of these cards because the distribution of such exclusive products in the UK is quite poor. Wherever I inquired, I was told that the AD516 was the best, and having read lengthy reviews on all three boards, I came to the conclusion that the functionality of any software without a cuelist feature is quite poor. The Wavetools package has a niche with its realtime effects, but I'd hope that Sunrize would challenge that.

Other platforms were not considerations, since I already own an Amiga and to purchase a PC would cost at least, if not more than, the AD516. My supplier (who is a audio/video producer by profession who supplies amiga peripherals as a sideline) told me that he had had clients who had bought PC's and later discovered they needed more memory, bigger hard drives, and generally more money.

BUGS

I have found one small bug, whereby two grouped tracks are "strangely" ungrouped if you edit one of them on its own.

I've also been told that there's an impending free upgrade to V3.01 which is nearly ready for release which is basically a bug fix.

I have had problems with the speed of my hard drive(s). All the documentation regarding the Sunrize package states that a hard drive with a 14ms seek time is sufficient for recording/playing 5 tracks, and that one with a 10ms seek time will play 8 tracks. My supplier supplied me with a 12ms hard drive.:) As it is, I have managed to play (not reliably) 7 tracks simultaneously, so a 10ms drive should easily play 8 tracks. I will be receiving a 9 ms drive in a few days, so I may update this review after this. I certainly have not been misinformed by Sunrize.

VENDOR SUPPORT

The package I bought included a half day training session and unlimited telephone support from the supplier (NOT Sunrize), neither of which I have had to use yet.

WARRANTY

Original purchaser - one year from purchase.

CONCLUSIONS

The AD516 and Studio 16 is a very powerful direct to disk recording system. Its interface is so easy to use it's beyond belief, and it does as much as is needed for basic radio edits, multitrack recording, and video soundtrack production.

That aside, the hardware is of top quality and simply isn't utilised to it's potential in my opinion. More effects and more versatility with them coupled with a developer's kit would make this a card to buy an Amiga for (like the Video Toaster).

I'm excited by the potential of the hardware, but daunted by the potential upgrade cost. This results in a degree of caution in recommending this card to others. It is truly unique and without compare on the Amiga platform, but would I buy an Amiga for it? Probably not - yet.

This review is Freely Distributable.

**** neil@melkfri.demon.co.uk ****

Jim Godown (901) 454-0001
Viva L'
AMIGA
BUY · SELL · TRADE
Memphis, Tennessee

Quick CD Game Reviews

from Amiga Entertainment Monthly #1

Title Rating
AMIGA CD FOOTBALL 79%
ARABIAN NIGHTS 60%
BRUTAL FOOTBALL 87.5%
CASTLES II 50%
CHAOS ENGINE 90%
D/GENERATION 65%
DANGEROUS STREETS 17.5%
DEEP CORE 80%
FRONTIER: ELITE II 45%
INSIGHT: TECHNOLOGY 80%
INTERNATIONAL KARATE + 45%
JOHN BARNES EUROPEAN FOOTBALL 46%
LABYRINTH OF TIME 79%
LIBERATION 90%
MEAN ARENAS 75%
MICROCOSM 91%
NIGEL MANSEL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING 85%
OSCAR 80%
PINBALL FANTASIES 90%
PIRATES! GOLD 87.5%
ROBOCOD: JAMES POND 2 80%
SLEEPWALKER 20%
SUMMER OLYMPIX 54%
TROLLS 75%
WHALE'S VOYAGE 3%
ZOOL 80%
ARABIAN NIGHTS 60%
BRUTAL FOOTBALL 87.5%
CASTLES II 50%
CHAOS ENGINE 90%
D/GENERATION 65%
DANGEROUS STREETS 17.5%
DEEP CORE 80%

MINI-REVIEW: Legacy of Soracil (demo)

by Eyal Teler

PRODUCT DETAILS

This is a mini-review of the demo version of Legacy of Soracil, an isometric role-playing adventure game ("RPG"). The demo contains one game level and appears on the coverdisk of the May issue of Amiga Computing magazine.

REVIEW

The game loads from the diskette, and reasonably quickly. You are greeted with a nice musical score. It's one of the better ones I've heard in a game in some time. Of course, I usually play only demos, so I may be missing something. The magazine contains instructions on creating your characters and starting the game, using the options accessible from the opening screen. The music continues to play until the game starts.

Character generation is done on two separate screens. The first lets you select four characters from those available, which are basically warriors and mages. The second screen allows you to change the attributes of the characters by adding up to five points divided among five attributes. There are two annoying things here. The first is that you don't know the attributes of the characters when selecting them, and you find this out only in the second screen. The second thing is that the characters are not coloured in the modification screen, and so I wasn't sure which one of them I was changing (some look about the same apart from their colours).

On starting the game, after selecting the destination (which always brings you to the same place -- it's a demo, after all), you see your characters in not-so-glorious isometric form. Each character gets a turn with a limited number of movement units. When the character can no longer move, you should switch to the next one, but it's possible to switch before this. I found it rather annoying to have to move each character individually, especially as the game forces you to switch, so you can't just explore freely with one character nor in a group.

The controls also let the game down. First of all, it's not all that easy to go where you want. In one place, where there are narrow corridors, I found myself going back and forth because I didn't press the right place on the screen (which was difficult because the screen is cluttered by walls). Battles are also not very well done, as you have to select repeatedly the character you wish to fight. As it happens, if you click on your enemy without selecting the 'fight' option, you could move to a place where you can't attack it (and in any case you lose movement units).

There are some traps in the game. Once they are sprung they are still active, and anyone stepping on them is hit, so beware. I think that the only way to avoid this is to find another route.

When you are in battle, the game gives combat turns to your enemies. First an enemy is shown moving on the map, and then a short combat scene is shown. This means that the game moves constantly between map display and game display.

The graphics in the game are not all that brilliant. In fact, they are quite bland. To let you view things hidden by walls, walls become ghosted and then turn back to normal, which is quite logical, but not perfectly executed (although I can't point to the exact fault). There are reasonable sound effects, but the music is missing in the demo. The full game has the option of selecting either music or effects; I didn't search for this option in the demo.

CONCLUSION

This game seems to make all the efforts to slow you down. Exploration and battles are the meat of RPGs, and the controls of this game make them a chore. It's the first isometric RPG I've played, and it just can't compare to first person perspective RPGs, which I like very much. Still, it seems that the problem is not the isometric nature of the game, but the controls.

Anyway, I might put it occasionally just to listen to the music.

This review was written by Eyal Teler. If you really want to copy it then are free to do it. Just don't change it.

Gateway Computer Show

Saturday, October 29, 1994

The Gateway Amiga Club in St. Louis, MO, is again sponsoring the Gateway Computer Show. The show date is October 29 from 11:00-6:00 PM. The show will again be held at the Machinist's Hall in Bridgeton (a suburb of St. Louis). Admission is $5 at the door.

Memphis Amiga Group had 1/2 a table there last year. Steve Echols, Bob and Cheryn Nunn manned the booth and had an opportunity to meet lots of interesting people and representatives from other user groups, software and hardware companies. We plan to have 1/2 a table again this year. This is an excellent way to learn new things about our favorite computer! You may even pick up some excellent buys. Anyone wishing to help man the table, please see Bob or Cheryn.

Last year, they had only one floor area. This year they've expanded their display space, as well as adding space for some classes. Below is the listing of classes and the teachers.

ARexx for everyone by Merrill Callaway, author of the "ARexx Cookbook"

Toaster Tips & Tricks by Greg Heifner, owner of Heifner Communications.

Using Deluxe Paint for Video Special Effects by Brandt Dargue, Instructor in computer graphics at McDonnell Douglas & at Ladue H.S. adult education in 3D graphics.

Desktop Publishing with Dan Weiss, an employee of Soft-Logik Publishing, makers of PageStream DTP.

Classes are $25.00 each. Space is limited. Admission free to the show for each course paid by October 1st.

They have again arranged discounts on airfares & rooms. We'll have more info in the September newsletter, but we wanted to give you as much advance notice as we could so you could mark your calendar now.