February 1997 MAGazine Volume 13 Number 2

Table Of Contents

The February General Meeting of the Memphis Amiga Group will be held Saturday, February, 8, 1:00 pm until approximately 3:00 pm at Steve Echols home, 4374 Barrymore.

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 attach it to e-mail and send to Paul Stokes at pstokes@comtek-inc.com.

From the President's CLI

by Scott Pitts

MINUTES

The Group meeting last month, was canceled due to weather. I hope everyone had a fun time on the ice. This months meeting should be about the same as what we had planned for last month. As previously stated, we are continuing on this with the internet theme for the next few meetings. This will allow anyone to get connected, that wants to be. We will try for a mail solution again this month. Vaporware (makers of Voyager) are suspose to have a great mail solution, but it is still not available yet. I will try to obtain an update from them as to when we might expect a beta version. Also, I have talked to the developer of AirMail, another promising mail package. He is considering support for AS-225 and its clones. The meetings will continue to be a Steve Echols house until he runs us off. In December, we saw AWeb 2.1. I will try to check with the creators, and get a status of when we can expect full frames support. This month we have a few demos planed. Eric is hopefully demonstrating Pine, a text based mail program. It should allow for basic email reading and sending, but does not have a gui interface. Paul has some workbench enhancements to show. We have some other demo's planned if all goes well.

As I have stated in the last few months, we are still looking for a good internet email program. Some users have had some success with Voodoo, so we may get a report this month. Microdot II looks good, but has yet to go into beta.

If any has any new software they would like to demo, or need assistance on, please bring it. We will try to assist with any problems, and everyone wants to check out the latest software. If anyone has any ideas about software that they would like to see demoed, please let one of the officers know. Hope to see you all at the next meeting.

Keith Burns
Secretary

MAG Meetings

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) holds general meetings the second Saturday of each month. This monthe the meeting will be at Steve Echols house at 4374 Barrymore (see map at left).

There will be no board of directors meeting at Gridley's BarBQ instead the Board meeting will be at Steve's at 12:00 P.M., Saturday, February 8. 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.

MRBackup Professional

PRODUCT NAME

MRBackup Professional, Version 1.13a

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

MRBackup Professional (MRB Pro) is an archiving program, usually used to back up valuable data from hard drives to floppies or other mass storage media, although it could also be used for backing up standard floppies, too. Programs of this type typically store the data in a format that makes maximum use of your backup media and can recover the data easily in the event of disaster.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: MRsoftware
Address: 348 Indian Avenue
Portsmouth, RI 02871
USA
Phone: (401) 846-7639

LIST PRICE

MRB Pro is available directly from the author for $25.00 (US). Those who purchased earlier versions of this program may upgrade for $10.00 (US) plus the original serialized diskette (offer good until 30 March 1993). Owners of the registered shareware version may also upgrade for this price, but need not send in the original diskette.

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

HARDWARE

Requires 1 MB RAM. At least one floppy or SCSI streaming tape drive required.

SOFTWARE

Requires Workbench 1.3 or higher. Requires ARP. library (supplied with disk). Voice feature will not work with AmigaDOS 3.0 (no narrator!). (Note: it will work if you use the 2.04 speech software.) ARexx is not required unless one wishes to use the ARexx macro features.

COPY PROTECTION

None implemented. Hard drive installable.

MACHINES USED FOR TESTING

  1. A2500/020, 3 mb memory, A2091 controller, 150 mb hard drive storage, Wangtek 5050 streaming tape, 2 floppies, 2.04 OS.
  2. A2000, 5 mb memory, GVP Series II controller, 150 mb hard drive storage, Insite 21 mb floptical drive, 2.05 OS.
  3. A3000/16, 6 mb memory, 105 mb hard drive storage, Wangtek 5050 SCSI streaming tape, 2.04 OS.
  4. A500, 2 mb memory, GVP Series II controller, 52 mb hard drive, 2 floppies, 1.3.3 OS.

Systems 1 and 2 operate 24-hour Fidonet BBS'S using DLG Professional BBS/OS. System 1 is a hub while system 2 is an end node.

OVERVIEW

In the beginning was QuarterBack, and I was quite happy with it until I got a hard drive bigger then my faithful old Rodime. At that point, I got my Wangtek with GVP's TapeStore software. I was still missing something: a good backup program with a documented ARexx interface that I could use to make automatic timed backups of important control files on my BBS. I literally stumbled across MRB Pro when I sent the author, Mark R. Rinfret, an e-mail regarding his former distributor. His answers to my questions (i.e., support of tape and full ARexx) prompted me to give the software a try. At the time, QuarterBack 5 was undergoing a few problems so I wanted to avoid Quarterback. :-)

INSTALLATION

I received my package and set straight to work.

The version I received, 1.12, was installed by an AmigaDOS script. I was somewhat annoyed by its insistence that I have the logical asignment. MRBackup: already existent; but other than that, installation went smoothly. There is one library (ARP. library), one handler (mrtape-handler) and one Mountlist file (Mountlist.mrtape), plus all of MRB's paticulars to be copied.

Update: The current version (1.13a) now uses Commodore's Installer utility. I wiped my 3000's copy and tried it out, and as usual it did an excellent job. Kudos to both Commodore and MR-Software!

Next thing to be done was the actual setting up of the program. There are numerous options from the main screen: Preference file, Home (source) path, Backup (destination) path, Voice on/off, Media Type (Amiga-DOS. SCSI Tape, or special "fast" floppy), List file path, Log file path, Buffer Size, Floppy drives to use (up to 4 possible).

* Note: all path-related operations may be typed in, or the ARP requester may be called by selecting a gadget. (ASL requester is used in AmigaDOS 2.04 and up.)

In addition, you can select your screen mode and colors from a menu option.

Besides the main screen, there are two other screens that can be invoked from buttons or menu options: Options and Filters.

OPTIONS

Test Date, Prefix (for volume names), Compression (none, 12-16 bit), Decompression, Formatting (normal, quick, none), FileSystem, Force Copy (overwrite during restore), Split Big Files, Test Archive Bit, Set Archive Bit, Preserve Empty Directories, Error Handling (automatic or interactive), Sorting, Verify Writes.

Each backup may be tagged with a comment as it is made. This is definable in a text gadget.

FILTERS

Here you can define text filters to omit or include files from your backup or restore operation, as well as omit and include files for compression and decompression. Rather than specify a file pattern directly, you must create a text file containing your pattern(s). This is actually quite flexible but may be viewed as a pain by some. Using ARexx macros, this can be worked around, but that's beyond many potential owners, as well. To me, the optimal solution would be to have an interactive requester of some kind that would create the filter files.

The average owner isn't left out in the cold, though. During backups and restores, items may be selected and deselected via interactive filtering, as my old Quarterback 2.x did.

Once you have set up MRB as you like it, MRB can save your preferences as defaults. In fact, you can define separate preference files for different partitions -- I have, as each of my partitions has a different "flavor" to it. The ability to change the default screen colors is helpful in reminding me of where I'm at -- the purple one is FILES, the gray one is my SYS:..., and so on.

BACKUPS

Making a backup is pretty simple once all the work of defining vour preferences is out of the way. To start a backup, simply click the BACKUP gadget on the main screen. You will see the OPTIONS screen again, but if everything is set up to your satisfaction, simply click OK.

The hard drive will thrash a bit as everything is gathered, filtered, and sorted, and then you are presented with a screen showing a list of files that matched the path/pattem/archive bit criteria you have set. At this point you can delve into the directory structure and further refine your backup, apply further patterns for inclusion and exclusion, or trim entire branches from the directory trees. When all is to your satisfaction, click OK.

THE NEED FOR SPEED...

Differing backup philosophies yield different speeds. Depending on the backup media chosen, compression mode, and sorting style you can either get a fast backup or a slower backup that takes up less space. Some comparisons:

Input Output Time Compression Throughput
2.1 M 2.1 M 0:38 0 % 62 KBPS SCSI tape direct
2.1 M 2.1 M 0:35 0 % 66 KBPS SCSI tape direct (unsorted)
2.1 M 1.5 M 3:27 27 % 7 KBPS SCSI tape 12-bit
2.1 M 1.4 M 3:32 32 % 6 KBPS SCSI tape 16-bit
2.1 M 2.1 M 7:45 0 % 4 KBPS AmigaDOS floppy (3)
2.1 M 2.1 M 7:05 0 % 5 KBPS FFS floppy (3)
2.1 M 2.1 M 5:14 0 % 7 KBPS Fast Disk (3)
2.1 M 1.4 M 13:49 32 % 1 KBPS AmigaDOS floppy (2) (16 bit compression)
2.1 M 1.4 M 13:45 32 % 1 KBPS FFS floppy (2) (16 bit compression)
2.1 M 1.4 M 6:21 32 % 3 KBPS Fast Disk (2) (16 bit compression)
2.1 M 2.1 M 1:45 0 % 30 KBPS AmigaDOS HD

A few observations: First, it's apparent that unless you have a truly large hard drive partition to back up, compression is something you want to avoid when using tape. However, for floppies at least 12-bit compression (larger archives but faster than 16-bit) will help reduce the number of times you have to swap floppies. The proprietary Fast Disk format gives great speeds, although you MUST use MRB to recover your data. The MOST secure method is using standard AmigaDOS floppies, with no large file splitting. It takes time but you can recover your data no matter what happens.

[MODERATOR'S NOTE: Mark Rinfret, author of MRBackup Professional, reports that the Fast Disk format is not "proprietary." He is happy to provide documentation on the disk format to anyone interested. It would be more accurate to refer to the disk format as "custom." - Dan]

* Update: Version 1.13, which I received after this time trial, comes with a 68020-code version of the compressor. When I used it for a few test runs, I achieved MUCH better results with compression -- almost the same as plain floppy backups.

I threw in a straight AmigaDOS hard drive value at the end just to give an idea of the speed of AmigaDOS in general. It in no way implies the tape is actually faster than a hard drive for most normal applications, rather that AmigaDOS slows things down a bit. It's a hard call to make when deciding, unless you already plan on using streaming tape, in which case your choices are more or less made for you.

* Hint from the author: First of all, match your buffer to the size of the one in the tape drive, if using tape. This will yield the best results as neither the hard drive or the tape drive will spend much time waiting for each other.

Each file is written with a preamble that makes recovery of corrupt archives more reliable. This is a nice touch for data security, a concern of mine.

RECOVERY

It goes against my very nature to wipe out a working hard drive partition to check the recovery options, but that's exactly what I did, cringing at every step until things were restored <grin>.

Restoration is simple, actually. You read in the catalog and then select and deselect files to restore. The decompression mode must meet or exceed the compression mode that the files were compressed with, or else the file will be restored in its compressed mode.

The same types of filters applicable to backups also apply to restoration.

An added touch is the ability to read in a catalog of what is on a tape or set of disks and select which archive to restore. This is especially handy on a tape system with several volumes stored on one tape.

I'm happy to report that my hard drive survived being formatted multiple times being restored from different backup formats. :-)

One observation I'd like to make: the first time I began a restore operation, the throughput was utterly dismal. When I asked the author about this, he pointed out that restoring to a clean partition should be done with the FORCE COPY parameter set to ALWAYS. If set otherwise, MRB will check for EACH file before writing, which wastes a lot of time. Throughput increased VERY significantly after I did that :-)

AREXX

Everything I've done so far as been via the stardard GUI interface. However, one reason I was looking for another backup program was to find something I could manipulate via ARexx for times backups from a Cron [scheduling] program. Without going into great detail, the ARexx interface to MRB Pro is without a doubt one of the best I've seen in any type of program. EVERY function available from the GUI is available to the ARexx port. This makes it easy to invoke MRB, quickly switch a few parameters, and make a backup without having to play nursemaid to the system. Two thumbs up! Also, each ARexx command is well documented, and example ARexx scripts are included to get you started.

I've already made a script that is launched via a Cron program to make incremental backups of certain key directories. I'm currently working on one that will allow me to log into my BBS, select an appropriate partition, and start a backup remotely. Another project on the back burner is a script that will allow my callers to retrieve files from the tape and download them -- This will allow me to keep less-used files offline but still available.

DOCUMENTATION

MRB Pro is currently in transition as the distribution switches from TTR to the author. As such, the author has had to "roll his own" packaging for this software. The manual is laser printed, and the content is clear and concise with illustrations. Aside from the cover, it looks very professional. All functions are covered except for a few more esoteric ones that are described in the on-disk documentation.

[MODERATOR'S NOTE: According to Mark Rinfret, the author of MRBackup Professional, the product is now distributed and maintained solely by MRsoftware, not TTR. - Dan]

With version 1.13, I received AmigaGuide documentation -- it matches the printed manual precisely except where there were typos or changes due to upgrades. Here's another place where MRSoftware and Commodore both deserve a cookie.

LIKES AND DISLIKES

MRB has a lot going for it. During backups and restorations, much information is presented in a clear manner: throughput, compression ratio, and progress indicator. Backups are not corrupted, and the data appears to be quite secure.

I do have a few things I'd like to see enhanced on the program;

BUGS

The first version I received, 1.12, had a minor bug that only showed during repeated (like 9 or 10) invocations, where memory was not being released when the program was shut down. Additionally, the ARexx port was not behaving as expected in certain situations. Both of these bugs were fixed for version 1.13.

1.13 has a slight bug as well, which I didn't notice until the author pointed it out to me. It shows up only during certain situations. However, a freely distributable patch file called "Patch_MRBackup113a.lha" has already been released.

VENDOR SUPPORT

My experience with MRsoftware has been very positive. The author has been very responsive the few questions I had. Bug reports have been followed up quickly, and feature requests have all been considered (although not always acted on -- I can dream, can't I?). He is available by US Mail, telephone, and e-mail.

SUMMARY

Hard drive backup software is fairly hard to get excited about. It's not a glamorous niche like a Video Toaster or OpalVision. Still, in this particular genre of software, MRBackup Professional can hold its electronic head up high. It may not have the flash of its competitors, nor the press, but it does the job and does it well and securely. And that's all that counts, in my book. Add the low cost of buying it, and it's a clear winner in my book.

MRSoftware has released a demo called MRBKDemo112.LHA. I suggest you locate it and give it a try, then decide for yourself. I think you'll like what you see.

NEW StormC 2.0, ArtEffect 1.5, DrawStudio 1.1

Haage & Partner News January, 1997

NEW StormC 2.0, ArtEffect 1.5, DrawStudio 1.1 and more...

HAAGE & PARTNER is proud to announce some new versions of their software:

StormC 2.0

StormC is an award winning C/C++ compiler system for 68xxx Amiga systems. The readers of a prominent German Amiga magazine voted StormC 1.1 "Product of the Year 96" and it got some other high ratings too: 94% Amiga Plus (Germany), 92% Amiga Computing (UK), 89% Amiga Magazine (Germany).

Among many new features, StormC 2.0 has received a new Profiler, to make speed optimization easier. We also enhanced it with a second editor: the famous GoldED 4.0. Other new features include hierarchical projects, external ARexx control, persistent break points, disassembler, CPU register display and stack checking.

StormC for PPC

At the German Amiga show in Cologne in November of '96 the beta version of a new PPC code generator was introduced. It works fine, although it is still in beta to get better optimization.

StormC for p-OS

The new Amiga-like Operating System p-OS was also introduced in Cologne. p-OS is done with StormC and now the core library of the GUI system StormWIZARD is ported to p-OS. In some weeks the native p-OS version of StormC will be finished. This will enable programmers to port an Amiga version to p-OS with very little effort.

ArtEffect 1.5, AE PowerEffects, AE SuperView, AE Gimmicks

HAAGE & PARTNER has now release a new update of ArtEffect, its award winning ("Product of the Year 96") paint and image processing program. Its main features are HAM8 support, which is essential for owners of an A1200 or A4000 without a graphics board. Especially during image processing they will now have a very good impression of what really happens to their pictures.

There are also some new PlugIns like MotionBlur (the picture will look like it is in motion), Tile (this module fills the complete picture with the current brush), MakeTile (this module creates a tile that can be used with the module tile to create an "endless" texture), ScanQuix (this module calls the external scanner software ScanQuix if it is installed on your computer).

Version 1.5 also supports the pressure sensitive pen and the eraser of the Wacom tablets (e.g. the ArtPad).

AE PowerEffects and AE SuperView are the first two extension packages. The first one adds new effects like PageCurl, Wave, Wobble, Ripple, Polar, Warp, ObjectMorph, SmearBlur, Prism, alien, Shift and Lightchange. The second one adds about 32 new loaders and savers like PhotoCD, IFF-ILBM, IFF-ACBM, IFF-YUVN, IFF-DEEP, IFF-PBM, PCX, GIF, 87a/89a, QRT/POV Raytrace, BMP (Windows, OS/2), JPEG (JFIF v6), TIFF, PNG, PNM (PBM, PGM, PPM), IMG, WPG, MacPaint, C64, PostScript(TM) etc.

On the support page of ArtEffect there are various files to patch older version to current 1.5. There are also some free Gimmicks for ArtEffect like 4 new toolbox icon set and 2 program icons (MagicWB and NewIcon style).

DrawStudio 1.1

DrawStudio is a very new structured drawing program for the Amiga. The main point on DrawStudio is the sophisticated combination of bitmap and vector-based graphics. All vector objects can be filled with a color, a gradient, a pattern or a bitmap.

Done by Graham and Andy Dean and published by LH Publisher in UK. HAAGE & PARTNER are the exclusive distributor of the German version and also a distributor of the English one. There is a new version of DrawStudio out now. It is localized for English and German.

Demo versions and patches of StormC 2.0, ArtEffect 1.5 an DrawStudio 1.1 are available on the home page of HAAGE & PARTNER:

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Haage_Partner/

HAAGE & PARTNER Computer GmbH, PO Box 80, 61191 Rosbach, Germany

Phone: +49-6007-930050, Fax: +49-6007-7543 Email: 100654.3133@compuserve.com

We develop to PowerUp the Amiga!

IAM Announces New Low Prices

Its holiday sale prices were such a great success that Intangible Assets Manufacturing will continue to offer new low prices indefinitely. Of particular note, the bundle of DiskSalv4 and MRBackup (called SYA or Save Your Behind) is now reduced further to only $49, a savings of more than 50% off the original retail pricing of these two products purchased separately. Also note that the Deathbed videos and T-Shirts are no longer available.

While supplies last, all direct orders for Amiga products from IAM will include free metallic Boing logos described by the Amiga Web Directory as "the quintessential Amiga collector items."

NEW RETAIL PRICE LIST

Connect Your Amiga! A Guide to the Internet, LANs. BBSs, and Online Services (book, 1996) $19

DiskSalv4 $30

MRBackup 2.5 $45

SYA (Save Your Behind), bundle of DS4 and MRB $49

MegaBall4 (with free XL t-shirt) $29

Amiga Envoy 2.0b $39

DICE 3.2 $100 for students/owners of other packages $75

Torn Shapes of Desire: Internet Erotica (book, 1996) $14.95

IAM products can be ordered direct from IAM via the web, mail, fax or phone.

We don't accept COD orders, but do accept checks in US dollars, as well as Visa and MC (no Amex or Discover). Our shipping and handling charges are flat-rate: you can order up to one of each of our products for the same charge. We ship via USPS or UPS at our option. In the US: $6 for ground, or $9 for air. Elsewhere: $9 for surface and $15 for air.

Intangible Assets Manufacturing
828 Ormond Avenue
Drexel Hill, PA 19026-2604
USA
http://www.iam.com