8-Bit Software Online Conversion

        Version 2.11 by Steven Flintham (15A) Introduction The messaging system is designed to allow 8BS members to send both messages for publication in the disc magazine and private messages to each other. Members use the program to write their messages which they can then send in to the editor on their submission disc. He then uses a separate program which helps to sort all the messages out ready for inclusion in the magazine. Basic instructions This section describes the main features of the program and should contain sufficient information to allow you to use it successfully, even if you miss out on some of the more advanced features. Inserting your submission disc When the program is run, it asks you to insert your submission disc in drive 0. The message asking you to do this is rather complicated but unfortunately this is unavoidable due to the different filing systems available. If your submission disc in in DFS format you should press D, while if it is in ADFS format you should press A. If you are not sure, pressing SPACE will almost certainly work. You should leave the submission disc in the drive at all times, unless instructed otherwise by the program. You should also avoid pressing BREAK while the program is running, although it is safe to do so when the main menu is being shown. It may be obvious but please remember that you do not have to write all your messages at the same time. As they are stored on disc, you can come back to them at a later time and change them, write new ones etc. Entering your user ID and name If you have not previously used this disc to store messages you will be asked to enter your user ID and name. Your user ID is shown in the top left hand corner of the main 8BS menu. You can just press RETURN instead of entering your name if you wish to remain anonymous. If you do enter your name, it will appear in messages exactly as you type it so you should type (for example) Steven Flintham rather than STEVEN FLINTHAM Don't worry if you make a mistake, as you can change these later. After this you will be asked how many messages you wish to be able to store in the message file. The higher this value is, the more disc space the message file will occupy. The program will then create a new message file on the disc, which may take some time. ( In response to feedback from members, I have written a short extra program to enable the size of a message file to be altered. The Message File Resizer is, for now, a separate program, but will be incorporated into the Messaging System in the near future. ) The main menu After entering your user ID and name if necessary the main menu will appear. The highlighted bar shows the currently selected option. You can choose an option by either pressing the letters shown at the right hand edge of the screen or using the up and down cursor keys. When you have highlighted an option, pressing RETURN will confirm your choice. You can usually return to the main menu by pressing ESCAPE if you get stuck anywhere else in the program. Writing a new message To start writing a new message, choose the "Start a new message" option from the main menu. You will be asked for the user ID to send the message to. There are three possibilites. Firstly, you can enter the user ID of an individual member to send a private message to them. For instance, entering 15A would send the message to me. Secondly, you can enter the 'fake' user ID CCC to send in a comment on a program or article you have seen in the magazine. This will appear on the magazine disc, usually in the 'Reactor' section. Thirdly, you can enter the 'fake' user ID 999 to send a general message to everyone. These messages appear in the magazine and can contain anything suitable for an 8BS issue. A common mistake is to enter the ID of an individual member when you want to comment publicly on a program or article they have written. Only messages to CCC or 999 will appear in the magazine. Once you have entered the user ID and pressed RETURN the main editing screen will appear. The message editor The message editor is used to edit both new and old messages. If you are writing a new message, the cursor will be placed on the subject line, ready for you to enter the subject. The subject can be anything you like but you should keep it fairly short (preferably one line, although it is up to you) and it should summarise the message you are sending. If you want to make several unrelated points, you are probably best to send in several separate messages rather than to put them all in one very long message. This makes it easier for people reading your messages to see what they are about. The message editor is a bit like a wordprocessor, although there are several important differences. Pressing RETURN will move you down onto the next line, as you would expect, and as you type words which don't quite fit at the end of lines will be moved automatically onto the next line. You can use the cursor keys to move around the message and whatever you type will appear at the cursor, as in a wordprocessor. When you reach the bottom of the screen, either by typing or by using the cursor keys, it will scroll to allow you to continue. There is a limit to the length of a message but this should not be a problem. If you run up against the limit you should consider rewriting the message as a complete article. As you move the cursor about, you may notice that there is a space at the left of each line which apparently has nothing in. You can type over this but you are recommended not to. No harm will result if you do, but the colouring of your message may change. The DELETE key works almost as normal but you cannot DELETE back past the start of a line as you can in some wordprocessors. If you delete words in the middle of a paragraph, the words from the next line will not move up to fill in the space. CTRL f6 inserts a space after the cursor, moving the rest of the line over, but as with DELETE, words at the edge of the screen will just be pushed off the edge rather than moved onto the next line. This is provided as anything you type replaces whatever is at that point on the screen, rather than moving it automatically to the right as most wordprocessors would do. This behaviour is a bit inconvenient but it is almost unavoidable for technical reasons. You can delete lines and close up the gap by pressing CTRL f8. CTRL f7 inserts a blank line above the current line. Careful use of these keys means that the problem with DELETE and CTRL f6 is not so serious. You can change the colour of the text by pressing f0-f6. These insert special 'invisible' characters into the text which change the colour from that point to the end of the line. They appear as spaces, so you can use them instead of spaces if you want to change the colour of a word. The gap at the beginning of each line contains one of these characters, which are automatically put in when you press RETURN or when a word is moved onto the next line. If you move over the gap and press a colour key the colour of that line will change. If you change the colour at the far left of a line as you type it, new lines will appear in that colour without you having to change them afterwards. This all sounds a bit complicated but if you experiment for a while it should all become clear. If you have ever used a teletext editor you should feel fairly comfortable with the message editor straight away, although it has been written to be a bit more like a wordprocessor than most teletext editors. An important point to bear in mind is that if you simply type over the recipient's ID at the top of the message, that will not change the recipient. You must also press SHIFT f9 and type in the new ID when asked. The ID of the person who will actually receive the message is always shown on the bottom line of the screen when you are editing a message. You should ensure that this is the same as the ID at the top of the message. If you find this confusing, simply take care to enter the correct user ID when first starting a new message and don't change the ID at the top of the message. When you are happy with the message, press ESCAPE to leave the editor and save the message to disc. Viewing, editing, deleting and printing existing messages To examine any messages you have already written, choose the view/edit/print option from the main menu. There may be a short delay but another menu will soon appear showing all the messages you have created. Each line in the menu begins with the user ID to which it will be sent and then has as much of the subject line as will fit. As with the main menu, you can use the up and dowm cursor keys to move the highlight. There are no other keys you can press to move the highlight on this menu. If there are too many messages to fit on one screen, there will be a "More messages..." option at the bottom of the menu. Moving the highlight onto this and pressing RETURN will show another page of messages. When you have highlighted a message there are several options. You can press V or RETURN to view the message. If the message is very long, you can use the up and down cursor keys to scroll through it. Pressing ESCAPE will return you to the list of messages. Thanks to Chris Richardson for allowing me to use some of the machine code from his teletext editor here. You can press E to edit the message. This allows you to change any parts of it which you are not happy with. You will be asked if you are sure and if you press Y the message editor will appear with the message in it waiting to be changed. Pressing ESCAPE will leave the message editor as usual, save the message and return you to the list of messages. You can press P to print the message. You will be asked if you are sure and if you press Y the message will be printed and then the list of messages will be displayed again. You can press D to delete the message. You will be asked if you are sure and if you press Y the message will be deleted. You can get it back again using the undelete option from the main menu, described later, but you should try not to rely on this too much. Pressing ESCAPE when the list of messages is shown will return you to the main menu, without doing anything to the message which is currently highlighted. Printing all the messages If you want to print all the messages, rather than printing a few individually as described in the previous section, you can choose the "Print all the messages" option from the main menu. You will be asked if you are sure you want to print the messages and printing will only start if you press Y. You can press ESCAPE while the messages are being printed and the computer will stop. However, if you have a large printer buffer printing may continue - this is unavoidable. Re-entering your user ID and name Choosing the "Re-enter your user ID/name" options allows you to correct any errors you made when you were first asked for your user ID and name. You will be shown your user ID and name in turn and you can DELETE either of them and type in a new version or just press RETURN to leave them as they are. Note that if you do change them, the change will not affect any messages created previously, so if the change is important you should go back and edit all of the old messages individually. This is tedious but unavoidable. In practice, there is no problem as this option is very rarely used. Provided you check your user ID and name carefully when you first enter them or when you come to create your first message then correcting them will not be too difficult and you will only have to edit one message at most. Undeleting messages If you have accidentally deleted a message which you wanted to keep you can probably recover it by choosing "Undelete deleted messages" from the main menu. The sooner you do this after deleting the message the more likely it is that you will be successful as new messages may replace deleted messages. Once this has happened you cannot undelete the message. The program will go through the message file and every time it finds a deleted message it will show you the recipient's ID and the subject and ask you if you want to undelete it. As usual, press Y for yes or N for no. This is repeated for all the deleted messages found. If you undelete a message then it will appear in the message list the next time you view the messages. Leaving the program To leave the program, you can either choose "Quit" from the main menu or press BREAK when the main menu is displayed. More advanced editing features This section describes some of the more advanced features of the message editor. The 'advanced' heading is not meant to suggest that they are harder to use, simply that new users can ignore them to begin with. Teletext control codes can seem quite complicated at first and although no harm will be done by experimenting, users with no previous experience might like to experiment with a proper teletext editor first. As it's main purpose it to edit text, the message editor is not as helpful as a teletext editor when using more advanced teletext control codes. A good teletext editor will have instructions which will explain what the various features mentioned here do and how to use them. f7 and f8 insert flashing and steady control codes. Flashing should be used sparingly - if you have to highlight a word or phrase, colouring it differently is probably better. SHIFT f7 and SHIFT f8 insert coloured and black background codes. These work in conjunction with the colour codes. CTRL f4 and CTRL f5 insert double and single height codes. Double height is not very well supported and you must enter each line separately. It should not be overused as large areas of double height will look strange when put in a scrolling display. There is some support for teletext graphics. CTRL f0-f6 insert graphics colour codes into the message and f9 enters a pixel toggling mode in which Q, W, A, S, Z and X toggle the 6 pixels of a teletext graphics character. Press f9 again to exit pixel toggling mode. CTRL f0 and CTRL f1 insert contiguous and separated graphics codes, which allow you to change the style of graphics. CTRL f2 and CTRL f3 insert hold and release graphics codes, which allow you to overcome some of the problems with colour codes taking up a space on the screen. If you wish to prepare messages outside the messaging system using a wordprocessor or text editor, you can either use the ASC2Mes program or use the message editor's simpler CTRL-T command. This will ask you to insert the disc containing the message, which may be the same as the submission disc (although bear in mind the earlier warning for DFS users) and enter the filename of the message. It will then be read in at the current cursor position and when it has finished you will be asked to insert your submission disc again and the editor screen will reappear. The file is checked to see if it exists but if you enter invalid characters in the filename the program may crash. This is hard to prevent but at the very most you will lose the message you were working on. As you were presumably going to be reading most of it in from disc, you should lose very little work. The message you are reading in should be either unformatted text or text formatted to a width of 38 characters. You can produce unformatted text by writing it in Wordwise (Plus) without using any control codes and saving it using option 1 from the main menu or by writing it in Edit on a Master and ignoring the way words split at the ends of lines. If you use View, you can probably produce formatted text by setting the ruler length appropriately and using a spool utility to spool the text out to disc. Memory requirements The program uses quite a lot of memory but in tests with PAGE at &1D00 it appeared to run correctly. This means that most people should be able to run it without any memory difficulties. If you experience problems, try disabling any extension ROMs which raise PAGE or (on a BBC B or B+) try using DFS instead of ADFS. The program will give warnings and advise you to restart it when memory gets low. These should not normally appear, but they may do if you use the program continuously for a long time. Reporting problems If you have any problems with the messaging system please let me know. The more information you can supply about the problem, the more likely it is that I can fix it. You should try turning the computer off, disabling any extra ROMs etc before running the program to see if that solves the problem - if it does then the program is incompatible with some feature of your system. If you can track down the incompatibility I will be pleased to try and cure it. It would be very helpful if you would start from a completely blank disc and attempt to reproduce the error in as few operations as possible. That way it is easier to tell which part of the program contains the error. For instance, if you only had to use the New message and View/edit/print options, then the problem must be in one of those parts of the program. You should also give me full details of your system, including any extra ROMs you have fitted, the filing system and type of disc drive being used. It would also be helpful if you could do a *MAP on the disc you were using and tell me what results you obtain. If you get an error message, please let me know what it was - in particular, the line number is very important. If you have renumbered the program, please try to reproduce the problem on an original copy. I would also like to know the value of PAGE on your machine - type PRINT ~PAGE from BASIC to discover this.