June 1995 MAGazine Volume 11 Number 6

Table Of Contents

The June General Meeting of the Memphis Amiga Group will be held Saturday, June 10, 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 CNETPRO v3.05c software. Be sure to leave a note to the sysop.

From the President's CLI

by Scott Pitts

The verdict from State Tech has reigned down. It stated that if we wanted to utilize the facilities, then we would pay for them. They explained that their fees were reasonable, and that other groups did not have a problem with the fees. It is now placed upon the MAG members on the location of our meetings. Cheryn Nunn is looking for other possible locations for the meeting, and they will be presented at the board meeting, and brought up at the MAG meeting itself.

This months main demo will be on how to surf the NET. We plan to have an AGA Amiga directly connected to the Internet. We will attempt to login to WEB sites and show what the World Wide Web is all about. We will also try to show you Aminet, which is the PD Amiga shareware location. This location is where most of the MAG disks programs are compiled from. This should be a very exciting meeting which should allow everyone to grab the reigns and tour the internet.

And as always, I invite everyone to come out at 11:00am on the saturday of the meeting to Gridley's, where our business meeting is held. We order the food on the deli side and take it to the dining room. Hope to see you there.

MINUTES

The Board Meeting was not held this month, due to the setup time required for the demonstration for this month.

The Group Meeting started a little later than normal, again due to the setup time. A demo for Final Writer was given by Paul Stokes. It seems that the Amiga does have a word processor that is quite comparable to Microsoft Word. The next demos given were by Scott Pitts, Steve Echols, and myself. We created two networks, and attempted to install Envoy between two of Steves machines. That demo flopped flopped when we could not get the two machines to talk. We later discovered, after the meeting, that names of the two machines were the same. This caused all our problems, but we were able to demonstrate the functionality on the second network. Also, we demonstrated AMosaic, a WWW viewer for the Amiga. This demo also had a few problems, as the WWW server was not functioning, but we were still able to demo most of the functionality. Many questions were raised on WWW and the internet. We are planning on demonstrating AMosaic and FTP on the actual Internet this month, if the connection at State Tech is set up for us. We are looking for ideas for other demos you would like to see. Contact one of your officers, and let us know.

Keith Burns, Secretary

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 BarBQ beginning at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, June 10 (before the general meeting). For more information call Scott Pitts at (901) 854-1987.

Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1995

President
Scott Pitts
(901) 854-1987

Vice President
Steve Echols
(901) 756-9261

Secretary
Keith Burns
(901) 756-8514

Treasurer
Terry Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Librarian
Bill Bowers
(901) 360-0003

MAGazine Editior
Paul Stokes
(901) 867-8417

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

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.

WARPENGINE 040

PRODUCT NAME

WarpEngine/040 for Amiga A3000T - addendum

[MODERATOR'S NOTE: This is a followup to Peter Seebach's review of 23 Feb 1995, available in our review archives in the file hardware/accelerators/WarpEngine3040. - Dan]

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

This is a 68040 accelerator/SCSI-II controller/RAM expansion device for the A3000T and A4000.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: MacroSystem Development
Address: 24282 Lynwood, Suite 201
Novi, Michigan 48374
USA

Telephone: (810) 347-3332
FAX: (810) 347-6643

Email:macrosystem@cryogenic.com

REVIEW

I was happy to see a WarpEngine review and agree with the information there. I wanted to add an addendum to the review for A3000T owners. These were my experiences:

I have copy of the manual version 0.9. The copy I have included no information whatsoever on the A3000 or A3000T installation, and if it hadn't been for the help of friends on IRC, I could not have installed it with the documentation provided.

For A3000T, you have to set a wire jumper. This doesn't come with the board. I seem to recall running down to Radio Shack and buying the jumper (I ended up getting a thin shielded wire with a tiny clip at each end - they usually come in pairs, a red one and a black one - you have to be careful not to bend the fragile hook on the end, or it won't hold).

Once the Warp Engine is installed, you have to hook one end of the wire to the hole labelled JP4 (near the top) and the other end to a chip on the motherboard labelled U350. The pin attaches to the bottom right leg of the chip. Make sure you attach it with the shielding facing the neighboring chip leg, so there's no chance of the metal touching the neighboring chip.

Make sure the Warp Engine is seated very tight, if you get a black screen on bootup and no hard disk access, adjust it. My bootup screen is different since installing the Warp Engine and SCSI II drive, it is a very dark gray until it's finished initializing and reading my large drive, then goes to light gray and the startup routine. So don't panic too soon. Bootup time takes longer (especially if you've also added a large drive to your system).

If you have problems after getting it working, it may be that your jumper has dislodged. Use your own judgement as to whether to solder the JP4 end. I decided not to for now, but might in the future.

Now, jumpers have to be set correctly for the A3000T. I set mine as follows, and it works well:

J104 set to Int
J100 set to Ext
J102 set to Ext

I left everything else alone.

SCSI CONTROLLER

I too had problems using the motherboard SCSI port and the Warp Engine SCSI II simultaneously. My intention was to attach a new big drive to the Warp Enging ("WE") SCSI II and copy everything over from three small drives on the motherboard There was no way I could get the machine to recognize all four drives at once. It failed to recognize the WE SCSI II drive. When I reduced the motherboard drives to two, it worked (go figure). Then I copied all my data off the two small drives onto the third drive (exchanged with drive II on the motherboard) and copied all THAT onto the SCSI on the WE. It took several hours of frustration and experimentation. If I had wanted to, I could have left the two small drives on the motherboard, but I wanted them for my desktop, so I took them out and run completely off the WE SCSI II 1.7 gig drive onw. The SCSI II on the WE seems to work very well with the big drive.

You may experience similar problems in getting your system to recognize the WE SCSI II and motherboard drives at the same time, if you are transferring over or mixing and matching. I don't know if this is a WE problem or a motherboard SCSI problem (or both). I had no SCSI ID conflicts.

I am running the WE with a third party graphics card, as many people are now doing. I use the Picasso II. There's not much information in the Picasso II literature about configuring for fast systems, and none in the version of the WE engine that I have. I know my configuration is not running as fast as it should be, with the Warp Engine, but there's no help at all in the docs for configuring and optimizing it.

ADDING RAM

RAM on the WE is supposed to be MUCH faster than RAM on the motherboard. So I got 4 megs. I have a hybrid system. Unlike the first reviewer, my system seems to work fine with a combination of page mode and static column on the motherboard (8 megs + 2 chip RAM) and a 4 meg SIMM on the Warp Engine. But, I don't know if my system fully utilizes the WE RAM. My configuration utilities report the 4 megs on the WE, so the system knows they are there, but Workbench does not display the extra four megs, and I don't know if it's supposed to or not. The documentation doesn't enlighten me.

Hope this provides additional useful information for A3000T users.

I am very happy with the speed, design and SCSI II controller on the WE. I'm not satisfied with the completeness of the documentation and I hope MacroSystem Development endeavors to improve it.

Julie Petersen (LadyHawke@cup.portal.com)

Cando 3.0

PRODUCT NAME

CanDo v3.0 (v3.006 tested)

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

CanDo is a 'visual' application development environment, which allows largely mouse-based creation of Amiga software.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: Inovatronics
Address: 8499 Greenville Av.Suite 209B
Dallas, TX 75231

Telephone: (214) 340-4991
Fax: (214) 340-8514

(There's also a German office, at +49 89 3173164)

LIST PRICE

I think the list price is $399 (US), but I only paid a $159 upgrade fee as a registered owner of CanDo v1.5.

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

HARDWARE

2 MB RAM required.
Hard drive required.

SOFTWARE

AmigaDOS 2.04 or higher required.

COPY PROTECTION

None.

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

Amiga 4000/040 with 18 megs of RAM, AmigaDOS 3.0

INSTALLATION

Uses the standard Commodore installer - straightforward and simple.

REVIEW

I won't attempt to describe the program in detail; this is, after all, a short review. CanDo has a very polished interface consisting of scrolling toolbars (horizontal or vertical, depending on your situation) and many types of option-filled windows. You can begin by setting the screenmode and/or window size for your application, then begin adding buttons, menus, timers, graphic elements, ARexx or input event handlers, or whatever else you need for your program, then link them to each other or to script files. CanDo's scripting language seems very complete and clear - some 440 commands with plain-English names (no matter how long that makes them, hence functions like "SetWindowBrushAnimTPS()"...) and a straightforward, forgiving syntax. It also possesses a full set of looping constructs, global and local variables (along with type conversion and both Array and Record types), parameter passing, and surprising speed of execution. It is a rare moment indeed when I come across a situation for which there is no convenient command to handle it. Once, I had to create sets of mutual-exclusion buttons, early on in the learning process, and it took me just 3-4 minutes to set up a quick function to handle the job, despite my inexperience.

CanDo also has an outstanding help system and some very nice programming aids. Not only is all information available as an AmigaGuide hypertext file, but simply double-clicking on a command or keyword in the script editor will bring up the relevant page for definitions and explanations. You can also search for commands with the Lexicon Assistant and have it insert them into your code complete with the proper template. But that's only for situations when you actually need to write code - very often, you hand need never leave the mouse if you utilize the toolbar. For example, the "Objects" button brings up a requester which shows every object in your project in one window, and every possible action that can be applied to it in the other. You can disable it, execute one of its scripts, move it, find out its status, and so on, all with mouse clicks that write the code for you. You can also paint graphics (including animbrushes) on the screen, play sounds or MODs, run external commands via DOS or ARexx, and call other routines. CanDo is fairly object-oriented - when displaying or moving an Animbrush buffer, for example, it can have scripts assigned to specific frames (or each frame) that are controlled by accessing the buffer itself, not the calling routine. Keyboard shortcuts for functions are easy to create as well, since you can have them simply call the appropriate script attached to the object in question (button or menu item or whatever). There are facilities for aligning GUI objects on your interface,

Another nice aspect of CanDo is its relative efficiency in most areas. Code executes surprisingly fast, at least on my 68040 - I have an ap palling brute-force search routine cobbled together in one project, and you can hardly tell it's not a highly optimized algorithm by watching it run. CanDo programs are also quite small - at least until you "bind" them. In order to run on an Amiga without the hefty cando.library installed, you must process them to integrate the library functions into the executable. This can turn a 5K utility into a ~180K monster. But these days, an extra one or two hundred K doesn't seem to bother people like it did in the past, I suppose. Inovatronics has revised its licensing policy to allow freely distributable executables for noncommercial purposes (and, I am told, most commercial products under $50 or so).

Other functions include-serial and parallel port handlers, the ability to create ARexx ports and parse incoming commands, the ability to handle mouse or joystick events of any type including doubleclick, drag, RMB up and down, and proportional game controllers, the ability to use brushes for menu items or even button masks for irregular shaped hit areas, a full set of Workbench icon manipulation functions including AppEvent aupport, about 50 special effect transitions (complete with animated preview), asynchronous timer event objects which enable limited "multithreading", a fairly robust user-definable error handling facility, and even the interesting ability to execute code typed in by the user at runtime, plus lots more of course. There is a separate CanDebug package available as well, to allow single-stepping and a supervised runtime overview among other things - I have not tried this yet, however.

DOCUMENTATION

There is an excellent ~650 page illustrated manual in a 3-ring binder, and all text is available as an AmigaGuide document online as well. It includes the standard prose explanations of all functions as well as a large reference section, and a full index.

LIKES

Almost everything. The help system, as I've said, is wonderful. The flexibility and ease of use is fantastic. The manual is nicely written and printed, the software is stable and robust - it's a joy to use, and surpasses many well known Windows and Mac visual development packages in some areas.

DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS

There are a few features I think they could add to the scripting language, like making it easier to control the opening of screens (as in changing the parameters at runtime, rather than fixing them in stone when the program is written). I have a small list of minor interface improvements, too, like simpler cut-and-paste for multiple objects, a global search-and-replace function for all scripts in a project, more extensive Undo features and so forth. Nothing really fundamental or major, however.

COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

Right now I'm using CanDo to reimplement a project I originally did with SuperBase4 Pro. I wouldn't exactly call it a 'similar' product, though. After less than 3 weeks with CanDo, including learning time, I was at the same point that I was after 4 months with SBase, and the application is vastly better in the bargain. The online help and programming aids are unrivaled.

BUGS

No crashes yet; once in a while I can click on a button and nothing will happen, but that doesn't usually persist. Also, certain errors you can make in your program can bypass the error handler and cause CanDo to just quit (cleanly, so far as I can tell) without explanation, or sometimes even appear to hang. The latter usually happens only when I try to address an ARexx port improperly, for example. Included are utilities to stop a deck which has hung or is stuck in a loop. I rate it as very stable.

VENDOR SUPPORT

I wish they had some kind of Net presence. There is a CanDo mailing list but so far it has shown almost no activity. My only contact with tech support came before I ordered the product, to verify that all the functions I need were present, and they seemed informed and helpful at the time. Note that there are rumors Inovatronics is in financial trouble, but they seem to be hanging in there at the time of this writing.

CONCLUSIONS

This is one of the slickest programs I've ever used on the Amiga. It's actually one of the slickest programs I've used on any platform, when you come right down to it. Anyone who needs to write software on the Amiga and has not already invested lots of time and effort into a more conventional programming language, or does not have the time to use something like C, should take a good look at CanDo. It's useful for everything from multimedia presentations to games, database applications to paint programs. It's also ideal for application prototyping or building front-ends to other software packages.

Copyright 1995 Ben Scott. All rights reserved.

WARP ENGINE 3040

PRODUCT NAME

Warp Engine 3040 (Amiga 3000 version)

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

This is a 40 MHz 68040 accelerator/SCSI-II controller/RAM expansion device for the A3000. It is closely related to the A4000 version.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: MacroSystem Development
Address: 24282 Lynwood, Suite 201
Novi, Michigan 48374
USA

Telephone: (810) 347-3332
FAX: (810) 347-6643

Email: marcosystem@cryogenic.com

Support BBS: CryoCafe BBS (503) 257-4823 Accessible on Telnet to address 199.2.115.2 port 42

Mailing list: There is also a mailing list available for WarpEngine support. To subscribe to the list, send mail to majordomo@ice-cube.cryogenic.com with "subscribe warped" in the BODY of the message:

LIST PRICE

Somewhere around $1400-1500 US.

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

HARDWARE

The Warp Engine is not expected to work with Static Column ZIP RAM chips. This is not documented, but the manufacturer will admit it if pressed.

SOFTWARE

I believe this requires Kickstart 2.04 (or 3.1) ROMs.

COPY PROTECTION

Dongle (hardware device attached to an Amiga port) (Sort of. ;-))

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

Amiga 3000
2/16 megabytes RAM (see below)
2.04/NetBSD 1.0-current

INSTALLATION

Hardware installation: see below for more details. A small amount of trivial software installation of the "drag the X directory' variety.

REVIEW

I am assuming the reader has read the other reviews of this product; I am primarily covering differences for the 3000 version.

[MODERATOR'S NOTE: reviews of the A3000/A4000 version are found in the comp.sys.amiga.reviews archives in the hardware/accelerators directory, filenames WareEngine4040 and WarpEngine4040_2. - Dan]

First off: The A3000 (non-tower) version has "two" SIMM slots. Not four, The documentation specifically contradicts this. The packaging contradicts this. This is bad.

The Warp Engine is not compatible with Static Column ZIPs. This is not mentioned in the docs. At least one persion I talked to has it running with them, but it wouldn't run that way for me.

The SCSI-II controller is incompatible with the A3000's motherboard controller. This is also not documented. If you use the 3000's controller, you may or may not experience random crashes, and will very likely see random disk failures on drives off the A3000's controller. It is incompatible with some disks (as noted before).

I was able to work around the latter by getting a -08 revision SCSI chip. With this, I can use my CD-ROM again. The board is blindingly fast. I was primarily working under NetBSD, and I encountered one problem that went away with a later revision of NetBSD. All of the other bugs have been confirmed by MarcoSystems.

They do not support the use of WarpEngine with the internal SCSI controller; that's merely something I was able to get to work.

DOCUMENTATION

The documentation simply fails to cover adequately the known problems and limitations. The A3000 docs are a separate page; the main manual is for the 4000.

The documentation describes features specific to a motherboard other than the one I have; they cannot be followed precisely.

Many things that should have been in the docs were left out; see above.

LIKES

It's fast, and it's quite nice to be able to have SCSI-II, memory, and a fast accelerator, all without using a Zorro slot.

DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS

I was upset by the poor documentation, and the blatant inaccuracies in it.

COMPARSION TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

It's faster than a 4000 or an '040 NeXT. This is about all I can compare to.

BUGS

The ones I found:

  1. Static Column ZIPs may not work. This is not documented.
  2. Not compatible with native SCSI driver.
  3. May not work with some SCSI devices; reason unknown.

VENDOR SUPPORT

The technical support hours are minimal; business hours only, two days a week. There is no 800-number, so this required me to make a long distance call from work.

The first support representative I talked to was unable to give me any useful information. The re sponse to my complaint that the documentation and packaging are inaccurate (in reference to the 2 vs. 4 SIMM issue) was "If you don't like it, you can always take it back." This strongly tempted me to. The representative had never heard of Unix, and was unable to grasp my statement that NetBSD was not running under AmigaDOS, and did not need 68040.library.

The second representative I talked to (two days later, after I had figured out one or two things) was able to inform me of details of the RAM issue (the Static Column is a problem) and told me more about the problems with internal SCSI. After this, I was able to work things out on my own, at some length. Some of their representatives are better than others.

I did not get any responses to any of my email to their given email addresses; I suspect the sole person maintaining them is awfully busy.

WARRANTY

[see previous articles]

CONCLUSIONS

The product is, for what it is, an excellent product. It is not exactly what the packaging claims. It is by no means plug and play. It is extremely fast and responsive. I have found the system I run to be at least 6-10 times as fast as it used to be. (This is a combination of processor speed, memory speed, and disk speed, I suspect.) The technical support and documentation are poor. Make sure you know competent repair techs before undertaking to work with this, especially if your A3000 was not one of the mosst recent batches.

I rate it 4 stars out of 5 overall.

I would love to see these people provide better support for what looks like it could be an excellent product. I'd love to see more honesty in the advertisements, packaging, and documentation.

If every issue that they told me they already knew about had been in the manual, it would have taken me two days, not two weeks, to get my system running.

This review is placed in the public domain. Go wild.

MEMPHIS AMIGA GROUP MEMBERS June 1995

If your name is underline check your renewal date.

If you have a change of address of phone, please notify; Terry Campbell (601) 393-4864

LAST NAME FIRST NAME CITY ST ZIP EXPIRES
1. Akey Brian L. Memphis TN 38111 OCT 95
2. Andrews Freddie L. Memphis TN 38128 JAN 96
3. Bernard Jack Memphis TN 38127 DEC 95
4. Bilson Edward Memphis TN 38115 JAN 95
5. Bonk Bruce West Memp AR 72301 FEB 95
6. Bowers William Memphis TN 38118 MAY 95
7. Brockway Dennis M. Memphis TN 38107 SEP 95
8. Brownlow John G. Germantown TN 38138 AUG 95
9. Burns Keith Cordova TN 38108 NOV 95
10. Campbell Terry A. Horn Lake MS 38637 DEC 95
11. Cheigo John & Sara Memphis TN 38119 DEC 95
12. Cobbins Gerald Memphis TN 38109 Jan 96
13. Cumby Rick D. Bartlett TN 38134 AUG 95
14. Condo Casey L. Memphis TN 38134 OCT 94
15. Crockett Robert Horn Lake MS 38637 DEC 95
16. Dobbins Chris Memphis TN 38152 NOV 95
17. Echols Steve Memphis TN 38125 DEC 95
18. Ferguson David W. Pontotoc MS 38863 MAR 96
19. Franklin Shelley Memphis TN 38120 MAR 95
20. Gates Terrence A. Memphis TN 38115 MAY 96
21. Ginn Raymond Memphis TN 38127 APR 95
22. Hooker William H. Barlett TN 38134 NOV 94
23. Ingerson Steve Memphis TN 38118 SEP 95
24. Knight Bill L. Memphis TN 38118 NOV 95
25. Man Samuel Germantown TN 38138 FEB 95
26. McCalla Ron & Audrey Jackson TN 38305 DEC 99
27. Montgomery Ronald Memphis TN 38108 JUL 95
28. Norman Joe R. Dyersburg TN 38024 JAN 96
29. Nunn Bob & Cheryn Memphis TN 38125 AUG 95
30. Photo Grafix (Jim) Memphis TN 38112 MAY 96
31. Pitts Scott Collierville TN 38107 NOV 94
32. Robertson Eric S. Memphis TN 38111 MAY 96
33. Sanders Joe Memphis TN 38134 JAN 96
34. Seidl Steve & Linda Memphis TN 38128 JUN 95
35. Smith (Allen) Aubrey A. Memphis TN 38120 Feb 96
36. Smith David S. Memphis TN 38115 DEC 95
37. Stokes Paul Eads TN 38028 DEC 95
38. Swope Sara Beth Braden TN 38010 APR 95
39. Torrence Samuel Tupelo MS 38801 OCT 95
40. Vineyard Charles W. Memphis TN 38118 AUG 95
41. Walker Jim Memphis TN 38128 JAN 96
42. Walp Len Memphis TN 38128 DEC 94
43. Waters Robert Memphis TN 38116 OCT 94
44. Weatherall Broadus Memphis TN 38111 JAN 96
45. Williams Charles Wilson AR 72395 DEC 95
46. Winfield Kenneth Barlett TN 38135 OCT 94
47. Wirth Charles Memphis TN 38128 FEB 95

Financial Report

DISK SALES $ 38.00
Mag ADD $
Dues $ 40.00
Rentals $ 5.00
New Members $
Cash ON Hand $ 204.28
Months Receipts $ 83.00
     
Bank Charge $ 10.00
Postage $ 4.32
Mag Printing $ 35.18
Mis. Expenses $
New Disks $
On-Line Charges $
Months Debits $ 49.50
     
Bank Balance
Ballance $ 282.56
Deposits $
Checks Out $ 81.32
New Ballance $ 191.24
Total Assets $ 395.52