8-Bit Software Online Conversion

The following were sent to me after the deadline but before release. As I have room on the disc, I have bundled some messages and comments into this one file. To : 999 (All members) From : 483 (Daniel G Shimmin) Re : Compacting issues to save space John Ilsley enquired whether entire issues, or 50K sections, could not be compacted in order to save space. There are several reasons. Firstly, a large number of members prefer issues to be ready-to-run off the disk, and would find copying archives and then de-archiving them either difficult or irritating. Secondly, archiving software increases the chances of incompatibility problems, and some people have found the de-archiving software unreliable in the past. Finally, a particular problem with BDARK etc. is that the de-archived files have no file attributes apart from file length, i.e. they are set up with the atrributes of text files. Although this causes no problems with BASIC programs or text files, machine code files with specific load and run addresses, such as the Teletext display files used in the magazine, will not run correctly. Archiving is still occasionally a good idea despite these problems, and presumably the last problem could be overcome with a bit of clever software, but for the most part there is just about enough room on each issue to include nearly everything, and items that won't fit can be kept for the next issue. To : 999 + 0E7 From : 483 (Daniel G Shimmin) Re : DFS compatibility problems With regard to 8BS programs, ALL programs SHOULD either work on both ADFS and DFS, Model B and Master, or have a note saying so in the magazine. So long as you have a fully working DFS and ADFS in your machine, and you aren't using a very old Beeb, programs should work. If not send Chris the details. To : 0E7 + 999 From : 483 (Daniel G Shimmin) Re : Printing, Magazine listings I think you asked how it was possible to print listings of programs. Well the simplest way (I think) to print anything on the BBC is to use VDU 2 to switch the printer on, and VDU 3 to switch it off. For example, to list a BASIC program to the printer: LOAD"<filename>" <RETURN> VDU2 <RETURN> LIST <RETURN> VDU3 <RETURN> Similarly with just about anything that goes to the screen, variables for example: 10 A$="STRING TO BE PRINTED" 20 VDU2 30 PRINT A$ 40 VDU3 Remember that any listing from a commercial magazine will probably be copyright, and BBC Acorn User would probably not be too pleased if you were to spread the program around. To : 999 + 0E7 From : 483 (Daniel Shimmin) Re : Recycling A few more comments on this I'm afraid, prompted by Fred's reply to my original article. There are important differences between the wartime instances of "recycling" which Fred mentions and proper recycling which is going on today. During the war, people were being asked to give up items that they owned (on the pretext that they weren't absolutely necessary) to be put to another use. Today, the whole essence of recycling is that it involves materials that are now no longer in use at all, and would otherwise be thrown away. The whole point of recycling is that these materials are used again INSTEAD of being thrown away. Fred suggests the possibility that (as in the earlier wartime schemes) some of the stuff is not being recycled; but he disproves this with his own argument that "where there's muck there's brass" - the only reason that commercial companies will get involved in recycling (e.g. in glass recycling, and in aluminium can recycling, where each can is worth quite a bit, and companies will pay money to charity for each one they receive) is that the resources gained are valuable for them because they ARE going to use them again. Fred confuses recycling with both composting of paper and (apparently) landfill; it is in fact the primary aim of recycling schemes to AVOID these, as both produce harmful (and even dangerous) waste gases, and compost can be created easily enough by the use of organic material. Nowadays all low-grade papre for recycling goes either back into newspapers or into making cardboard etc. Fred is right to be suspicious of a new political party springing up, but there is a difference between the stereotyped political parties that we have known for many years, who are out to get power in any way they can (both the Tories and Labour changing their policies to whatever they think will get them votes), and the Green party, who campaign without compromise on what they personally see as the most important issue. I was involved in the campaign which resulted in Britain's first Green county councillor being elected, and it seems to me that the Green Party is far more a "grassroots" movement given its impetus by local people who care about their environment. And after reading some of the minutes of the meetings of the local Green Party, I've also seen how the existing parties have attempted to prevent the Green Party having an effect on the Council; the County Councillor who has been elected almost exclusively on an environmental manifesto has been denied a place on the Council's environmental committee by means of an irrelevant technicality. Democracy in action! Anyway I had better stop there otherwise 8BS will have rather more of a political slant than it needs, but it should be more food for thought anyway. To : 999 From : 483 (Daniel Shimmin) Re : Backlog of disks & things I still have SAE's and disks from a number of people which I have not had time to fill up with software and send on to you. Apologies for the delay, I will attempt to deal with these as soon as possible (!) To : 999/483 (Daniel Shimmin) From : 4MD (Graham Gallagher) Thanks for sending me a free issue (No. 24) of your "monthly" disk which I received mid-February. I am a relative newcomer to home computers having purchased a second hand BBC B+ just 2 years ago primarily with my two school age children in mind (infants and juniors). Since obtaining a printer 10 months ago I have become more interested in using our micro particularly as it came with WORDWISE already mounted. My wife has also started using it for letter writing. I have been buying ACORN USER since acquiring our micro but have recently stopped doing so as its coverage increasingly relates to only the ARCHIMEDES. I was contemplating subscribing to BEEBUG magazine but having seen your "monthly" disk I have decided to join your ranks instead (BEEBUG will have to wait). As a new member I would briefly describe my computing interests as educational, puzzle type games and getting the most from our word processor and printer. Towards these aims I have in the past few months purchased software from BBC PD which I have found to be quite useful, although I am having trouble in understanding how to use a program called SUPERFONT (any advise would be welcome). As recommended I have taken the trouble to print out most of the disk magazine and found much which is interesting and relevant to my needs. Consequently I would contribute to specific matters of interest as per the following messages: To OE7+999 From 4MD (Graham Gallagher) Re: Screen Dump programs. I too have wanted an easy way of dumping a screen to the printer but have had little success in finding a suitable program. I discovered that the March 1984 issue of MICRO USER contained two short listings providing a screen dump utility which looked promising as it was designed to be used with a chosen "hot" key from within a game program. Unfortunately I have not been able to de-bug my typed version. Also, I am uncertain as to its copyright status and reluctant to submit it as public domain. However, if any individual is interested I would be willing to send them a hard copy of the 2 page article (the listings are only about 70 lines in total). Finally, on the same subject, I did obtain disk 50 of BBC PD specifically for the "PRINTER DUMP" program. I aggree that it is not user-friendly, I've had no success with it at all. NB. I can be contacted on 0788 823214 (evenings/weekends) From 4MD Re: PATIENCE by Carl Wheat (204) This program is admirable in its quality and adherence to the rules of the traditional card game. My two children were thrilled at being able to play it on screen and stayed with it until they'd both completed it and obtained the "well done...." message. However, they have not shown any interest in it since. The PC at work has the same card game but titled "solitaire". This version has succeeded in keeping my work mates interested by incorporating a scoring system which has made the game addictive; each lunch time you will find someone trying to beat their personal best or the highest score to date. Scoring is time related in that 2 points are deducted every 10 seconds, whilst 10 points are awarded for every card removed from the pack and 20 points when cards are finally placed in one of the four stacks of suits. Each time the whole pack is turned 100 points are deducted and it is feasible to have a score of 0 but not less. The game is completed in the usual manner when a time bonus is applied to the final score. I have only completed the PC version a couple of times and noticed that the displayed score is mutiplied by a factor of about 8 for a displayed time of 180 seconds. This would be consistent with a bonus multiplier of (1000-time)/100. The scoring system just described might not be entirely correct but something similar ought to capable of being devised. A large penalty point deduction could also be imposed for making use of the existing small cheat facility. I would not be able to program such a scoring system into the game myself but perhaps Carl could consider making the necessary modifications. In my opinion the enjoyment of his program would be increased. REPLY TO PHILIP MILLER AND TO ALL RE: ARC/BBC DEBATE Having just read Philip Miller's letter in Issue 26, in which he attempts to "add some sanity" to the Arc v Beeb debate, I reckon it's time I attempt to add a bit more, since his letter seemed unbelievably biased away from the Arc. I too own several computers - a BBC B, an Archimedes A440/1 and an IBM PS/2 notebook portable. I also have access to a wide variety of PCs from a pathetic 286 up to a so-called 'state of the art' 486DX2 66MHz. I also have been programming for some time - 12 years ago, when the Beeb first came out, and I was an 8 year old youngster! I used that Beeb nearly every day for 11 years, until last summer, when my disc drive put its stepper motors in the air, kicked once, and died. This was the last straw. Despite many happy hours together, I realised that the Beeb was nearing the end of its useful life. I was also getting sick of the amount of wires which went everywhere. And I didn't like the way that nothing new had been released for the Arc for about a year. So I got my Arc. Five years of lusting for one, and finally it arrived. Just one power cable. A perfectly designed 3 unit machine. A superb desktop. Multi-tasking. 4096 colours. 4Mb of memory. 50Mb of hard drive. Games like you wouldn't believe. Drool. It took me two weeks of playing games before I finally decided to start programming. My early stuff was, let's face it, crap. But then again, what were your first efforts on a new machine like? I had no reference manuals, or even a Dabhand Guide, so I learnt how to program the way most of us do. I hacked other people's programs and found out how they'd done what I wanted to do. I've now been programming the Arc for 9 months, and I can do much more than I ever could on the Beeb - which I'd been programming (yes, in 6502 as well) for 11 years. OK I haven't started programming ARM code yet, but with the SYS commands and the speed of BASIC, I don't need to yet. I've written numerous WIMP programs, graphics programs, even a WIMP based database. All fairly easily. Yes, it was difficult to start with, but then, if you haven't got the willpower or the determination to continue, to keep striving for the pinnacle of programming excellence which we all hope to achieve, what the Hell is the point of starting in the first place? I understand Mr Miller's complaint that the machine slows down when using multitasking. It's true, the standard ARM2 Arc is fairly slow in that respect - but only when you are using an excessive number of applications. And OK, the ARM3 only has a 1K cache. So what - there is no real need to have a 128K cache - it's still faster than a lot of PCs. If you really want to speed your machine up, don't just go for the standard 25MHz ARM3 - why not get that new 35MHz one. I bet that's like the proverbial doggie doos off a shovel. And talking of PCs, we all accept that they are the industry standard, (and look at the state of British industry), but that doesn't make them the best. Windows 3.1 is said (by the PC market) to be really good. But I've seen it, and it doesn't even come close to Risc OS. If you want spreadsheets, what about Eureka, or even Acorn's Advance? So it doesn't have Lotus 123 as its title - so what? If it does the job (and it does), what's the problem? And as for Word for Windows and Wordperfect for Windows? Well, words fail me. Mr Miller describes the former as "the best wordprocessor on the market for any computer". Various words spring to mind as I compare Word and Impression 2, but unfortunately, none of them are printable. I accept that Impression 2 is actually a DTP style package, but it functions admirably as a wordprocessor. I realise that I am probably walking into the Lion's den by writing this letter. I also understand that some people either cannot or will not buy an Arc - it took me five years. And I'm not talking down the good old Beeb. I used one for 11 years, and I still come back to it sometimes. But don't talk down the Arc - it's more expandable, more powerful, easier to use, and has better software than the Arc, and in some cases, than PCs. If you can't program the Arc, try harder - how do you think the rest of us manage? If you seriously think, Mr Miller, that Acorn lost something when they moved from Beebs to Arcs, then you are sadly mistaken. For a start, if they hadn't gone over to 32-bit technology, they wouldn't be here now. And the Beeb would be even more out in the cold. When the Beeb was fighting against the (gulp) Spectrum, we all used to tell our Speccy owning friends how much better the Beeb was... and got laughed at. Now we have a machine which really can kick some of the competition's ass! The famous red jacket-wearing Dominik Diamond said recently that people should look out for the Arc, because it'll be taking off soon. But it'll only do that if the people who already have Arcs support the software producers and stop slagging off a superb machine. Beebs were good. And to some extent, they still are. But let's face some unpleasant facts (this is the real sanity injection bit): a) Beebs are old technology. They're 8-bit, 32K, slow, and to have a semi-decent system you've got to have enough wires trailing all over the place to stretch halfway across the country. b) Beebs have no new software. The only thing that's keeping the Beeb alive at the moment is the PD market - and even that is in decline. Just look at how few PD houses there are in Acorn Computing's PD page. c) Arcs are new technology. They're 32-bit, up to 4Mb, fast, and a neat 3 box system with no wires trailing everywhere. d) Arcs have new software coming out all the time. Yes it's fairly expensive, but isn't everything these days? Compare the price of Impression 2 with Wordperfect for Windows. There's nothing wrong with the Beeb - it's just old. So let's just let it get old in peace, instead of reminding ourselves about it every time someone writes one of these letters. In my opinion, Mr Miller got his last sentence the wrong way round. He said that Beebs can be made brilliant, Arcs can only be made a little better. An Arc can be customised so that it suits you precisely. When mine starts up, a sampled voice says "Hi there Al", it prints up my name and address, and loads a snazzy 256 colour background to the desktop. If it's my birthday, it'll sing Happy Birthday to me. OK it's sad, but who the Hell cares? You just can't do that sort of thing on the Beeb. Deep down, we all know that the Beeb market is dying. The best we can do is make sure that its last few years are as comfortable as possible. And then trade up to an Arc. ALISDAIR MILLARD I have received this list from Different Ideas PD. If you want any of the software in the list, you will have to write to Different Ideas for prices. Alisdair Millard Different Ideas Archway Cottage The Mount Headley Nr Bordon Hampshire GU35 8AG The Different Ideas Catalogue May 1993 Disk Title 1 Miscellaneous #1 2 Miscellaneous #2 3 The Music Disc 25 - files of music by the Noige 4 Miscellaneous #3 5 Miscellaneous #4 6 Arena II - Econet multi-player adventure 7 Samples #1 8 Graphics - Star Wars animations 9 Music #1 - ADFS disc packed with over 100 bits of music. 10 Eco-Mail - Electronic mailing system for Econet 11 FrontEnd - Econet front end system 13 Converse - Artificial Intelligence - almost! 14 MixMania - from the Yorkshire Boys 15 Small C Compiler 16 Adventures 17 BAPS Adventure Creator 18 AMPLE #1 - 31 AMPLE music files 19 X-Tel - Teletext editing suite 20 Music #2 22 65C02 Assemlber + literature 23 Utilities #1 24 DOS Utilities + literature 25 Turbo Publisher 26 Mixmania2 Vol I - from the Yorkshire Boys 27 PD Magazine Vol 1/1 28 Mixmania2 Vol II - from the Yorkshire Boys 29 Compressors - file crunchers, screen squashers etc 30 Samples #2 31 S.N.A.I.L. programming language 32 Anti-BT music 33 PD Host - Viewdata/Terminal BBS host. 34 Miscellaneous #5 35 Spellcheck 36 Retribution Demo Demo - from the Yorkshire Boys 37 PDTP - PD Desktop Publishing 38 Samples #3 39 Election '92 - all the facts and figures