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[Full text of \”Acorn User Magazine\”


Accounts packs: Cashbook, Fina! It provides a fast and flexible means of capturing images Irom a video camera or recorder for display and manipulation on the Archimedes range of Micros. Off-air televison signals may also be digitised via a video recorder or TV tuner. Please write for further details. Working area 9\” x 8\”.

We have informed most of the software houses of this decision in order that they can ensure compatibility with our highly sophisticated and fully Acorn compatible DDFS. It also has all the commands of the Acorn\’s 1 DFS, plus the added features. Each disc has a reinforced hub ring. Supplied complete with selfstick labels and a Plastic Library Disc Box.

For ease of use, the switches are front mounted. These prices, coupled with the backup of one of the country\’s largest distributors of BBC peripherals provides a superb deal. When using a BBC Micro, most people find themselves short of desk space.

Your BBC Disc Drive and Monitor can ait occupy the same vertical footprint and still be comfortably situated, With She Watford Double Plinth, your Disc Drive is mounted vertically at one side, leaving a very valuable area directly in front of you for such useful items as spare discs, pen.

Follow the trend with a Watford pfinth. Turn to the 6th page of our advert for the Plinths. S, AH our 5. Alt you require is our special Compact Disc Drive cables designed by us. They are supplied complete with all cables and a Utilities Disc. The use of Cleaner Kir is a sensible precaution against losing valuable data. It is recommended to clean the drive head once a weak, it is very simple to use. Available in 3.

Each computer has a status light dedicated to it. II it is gneen you will get immediate aocess to the disk, and red means thal you are next in tine. The unit plugs directly into the disc drive socket on each computer and is powered by the mains, N,B.

Mot lot use with ADFS. Antistatic helps avoid data corruption whilst in storage. The smoked top locks down. Dividers and adhesive litte strips are supplied for ellicient filing, of discs. Supplied complete with integral power supply, cables and Utilities disc. DLC2- Holds 1 0 x 3. DLC3 – Holds 5 x 5. DLC4 – Holds 1 0 x 5. Its multi scan circuitry provides automatic adjustment for frequencies between 30 and 60KHz horizontal, and 50 and BQHz vertical, its 0.

Increases productivity in offices. A must for wondprocessor users. AH controls are located on the front panel for ease of use. Ideal tor BBC. BBC Master. Archimedes and Amiga. There are 2 versions to suit all requirements. The multimode software supplied, provides all Ihe new modes for the selected monitor type, including the now standard Computer Concepts modes. With VGA monitor, you are no longer restricted to a tew modes.

A WIMP application supplied on disc, allows new modes to be designed and existing modes to be modified for particular monitors. They can be used as Aulo Sharers, Printer Buffers or bolh. ConQuest lakes this principal even further, by utilising the otherwise normally incompatible Sideways RAM facility by holding pictures in them. This handy little gadget solves the problem of where to store your mouse when it is having a rest.

Made of sturdy plastic, the WE Mouse House attaches to the side of your computer, monitor, disc drive or desk. It protects it from damage when not in use. Requires very tittle desk space. Mouse Cleaning Kit To obtain trouble free operation and prolong the life of your mouse, it requires regular cleaning.

It is totally insensitive to local lighting conditions and works with many different monitors. An LED indicates when valid video data is being produced. A conveniently located switch is also lilted. This uses the lull graphics capacity of the BBC micro in modes 0, 1 or 2.

The video source may be a camera, video recorder or television, and is connected via the video output socket. The software supplied includes a sophisticated, fast screen dump rou tine. Images produced can be compressed, stored td disc, printed on an Epson compatible printer, directly used to generate graphics, analysed or scientific and educational use or converted to other formats e. Stow Scan TV or receiving a piclure from a remote camera using a modem.

The output from the digitiser exactly matches the graphics capability in each mode, with up to 8 levels of grey in mode 2. The unit connects into the User Port and automatically scans a complete picture in 1. HandSean is a compact unit which will allow photographs, diagrams, or any other documents to be digitised quickly and easily, to hen be used in a desk top publishing package, ari program, or even in your own Basic programs!

These useful devices have been available or faster and more expensive micros for some time, but only now is Watford Electronics able lo otter the BBC Micro computer. All necessary software has been included in the lirmware lo allow Ihe scanner lo read images directly into our Wapping Editor with little more than lha click of the mouse.

The digitised picture may Ihen be incorporated into your magazine, newsletter, report or any other document. The package includes a 64K ROM containing ALL he software needed to get into print fast: a very sophisticated graphics module, professional quality typesetting software, a word processor, a comprehensive font editor for designing your own typefaces, and a variety of printer dumps.

A comprehensive page man uaf completes the package. The Support ROM contains routines to allow an area lo be rotated to any angle or distorted lo any four- sided shape. Page Layout Section The Wapping Editor may be used lo create pages of any sue from an A6 to a full A3 page, If none cl the eighl default page types suit your purpose, the stand-alone page creation program may be used to create pages to your own requirement- By using proportionally spaced fonts and genuine microspacing it is possible to print over ISO characters; across an A4 page.

Text may be typeset, either justified or unjustified, in any font anywhere on the page. Simply select which lent and text document you wish to use, and pull out a rectangle on the page where you warn the text to be – it\’s as simple as that! Multiple columns may be printed just as easily and a special \’expand 1 feature may be used to expend the microspacing so that the docu ment exactly tits the space defined.

Word-Processor The integral word processor is Ihe ideal tool lor producing your text documents, although text can of course be read in from any ol the other popular word processors such es View, Word wise etc. The Font Editor The font ediior module will allow you to design your own typefaces or to modify the ones provided on the utility disc.

This sophisticated editor has numerous functions designed to lake the ledium and frustration out of producing good looking, well balanced fonts.

Each character may be individutly proport ton ally spaced and characters of any size Up to 16 x 16 pixels may be defined. Pictures include maps, transport, people, media, sport, games etc.

Two \’ratio\’ screens for use with hi-res and rotated A5 pages lo ensure images are not distorted when printed Cut, Music writing symbols in the form of pattern and brush for quick production of manuscripts are included together with slaves. There are two prepared hi -res pages layed out for printing labels, both single and double width. Ready made label designs are included but these can be easily replaced with your own designs.

A Mode 0 screen dump routine is also included. To pack such a targe amount of data onto Ihe discs the screens have been compressed and routines to compress and expand Mode 0 screens are included on both discs. Using Ihe packing routine you can archive large numbers of screens onto a single disc. Also included are Ihree Mode 0 screens containing giant \’headline\’ fonts to cut and paste to create extra smooth headlines. Features provided include facilities for zooming In on an image and inverting the image in X and Y directions, saving and printing of the sprite created.

Interactive help is supplied using the \’HELP application on! The mm scanning width can cope wifh both desktop scanning ol single sheets, photographs, diagrams, etc. Scanned image control can be freely adjusted in increment of 10 dels per jneh from 10G up to dpi resolution with 64 levels of grey scaling. A buill in shading controller and manual brightness control achieve Optimum image clarify.

All these features and facilities combine lo make Ihe Archi Page Scanner the fast and convenient way in which to add that extra impact, interest and clarity to documents, reports, instruction sheets, manuals, news letters, etc. The package includes the most comprehensive utility software available for the Archimedes, a high quality hand held scanner, and all necessary documentation to get you going straight away, SCANNER The scanner is capable of scanning up to an amazing dote par inch DPI!

The dot resolution may be swilched to , , or the maximum dpi- One of tour operating modes may be selected offering either pure monochrome scanning, or one of three grey revel modes. The grey level modes use different size dilher patterns to represenl up to 16 shades of grey. There is also a dial to allow the \”brightness\’\” to be adjusted over a wide range, in order to optimise the quality for any specific image. The scanner interface is a standard, single width, expansion card podule which plugs into the Archimedes\’ backplane.

The socket on the rear panel connects the scanner by 1. The software is sup- plied in a 64Kbyte ROM located on the interface board. The scanner appears as a small icon on the desktop icon bar, and the software is retrieved from the ROM simply by clicking on that icon.

As you scan a page, the image appears in the scanning window on ihe screen, scrolling up in real lime. The other facilities included in the software are. Cropping and seating to any size including stretch- ing and squashing in X and Y direction separately. Colour tinting. X and Y flip, Edge detection which turns solid objects into outlines. Selective directional copying which allows features i.

Scanned images may be saved as sprite files dr transferred directly into olher RiscOS applications DTP, Draw, Paint simpty by dragging the sprite tile into the application\’s window. Sprites may also be generated using anti-aliasing. This greatly improves picture quality and is particularly affective when scanning material wiih a range of grey tones, such as photographs. Images can be printed on any printer that is supported by a RiscQS printer driver, with optional settings lor portrait or landscape modes, image scale and positioning, [mages are printed using the full resolution of the printer and are not limited to the screen resolution.

On-screen help is provided via Ihe RiscQS interactive help facility. Calls are also provided in the ROM for users wishing lo write their own software, incorporating the use of the scanner.

We also supply a purpose designed see-through slorage container with anti-static lining, allowing you to store up to 12 ROMs, prelecting them from mechanical and static damage. It is a must for professionals and Hobbyists alike. This product is recommended as an ideal complement by Computer Concepts. Lisp and BCPL programs in any screen mode. Sideways RAM enables you to load sideways ROM images from disc, allowing you to have a large library of sideways ROMs subject to the copyright holder\’s permission stored on disc.

The B32 simply plugs into the processor socket on you BBC micro – no flying leads to connect and no soldering. In addition, there are two sockets for sideways RAM. This extremely uselui little device aitows two units to be connected to the User Port simultaneously, and select between them simply by toggling a switch.

Using the B, up to 15 devices may be connected in a single high-speed data network. Commander is particularly good tor flight simulation and drawing programs. Following the success of this board, we have designed what probably represents the ultimate in expansion boards, Watford\’s ROM. This leaves free all the existing ROM sockets, which can still be used normally.

It is designed to replace your existing cashbook system and will provide you with a computerised system complete lo trial balance. Enables you to keep records of names and addresses and then print, examine, serf and find them, all with special selection techniques. By utilising the powerful Wordwise Plus programming language, Word Aid provides a whole host of extra features, all accessed via a special new menu option.

Search and display in preview mode. All standard highlight sequences are also supported- A large range o printers are supported by drivers contained within the ROM the drivers can be downloaded and customised. Other printers are readily supported by defining a Printer Driver using he built-in Printer Driver Generator. The lealures mentioned below are available to both the built in Printer Drivers and user defined drivers assuming the printe r supports the lealures.

NLQ control, Underline. Bold, Proportional Spacing, Microspacing, italic. LPI 6 , Set characters per inch numerically e. CPI 5 , Select printer font, Select printer ribbon colour. Full printer setup, Send control codes. Ol course. View 1. The BBC 8 series and Master series of micros arc supported. A comprehensive manual is supplied. All in all, a very professional product or the discerning user who wants power at their finger tips. Has VAT routines and footer messages lacilily. STOCK CONTROL – Allows you to enier stock received, stock out, summary of stock items and current holdings together with details of total cost, total stock to minimum level, units in slock ordering, quantity and supplier detail.

Available in 2 lull A4 versions, desk resting and shelf clamping. Paper Is held firmly by means of a plastic retaining ruler and a dip grip. By hand or foot pedal. Batteries 2 x A A not included. These units are extremely handy. However, now that you have got it home and connected it to your BBG microcomputer, you are wondering how to make it perform these magical tasks. The manual seems to give no ciues, and when you type in the example programs, the computer throws the LPRINT statements back in your face.

This book describes in plain, easy to understand English, how to use and make the most of your KP It describes in detail how to obtain the maximum in graphics capability from your printer and includes full indexes allowing you to cross Index the numerous commands. Every command is explained in detail, with an accompanying BBC Basic program and an example of its use from Wordwise.

Do you have to use both Acorn computers and PC\’s? As a result school computer users are at a disadvantage whan moving inio \’business\’ computing. PCs and other commercial computers use MS-DOS as the operating system, so commands tor formatting, copying, backing up, priming and the modem are not Ihe same.

Even file names are written differently! And did you know teal there is one Acorn commancf which, if used in MS-DOS, wipes everything in the current directory? John Lockley, who has wide experience of writing and broadcasling. Price: E Electron, Master 1 28 or Master Compact, or Archimedes, then his is the book for you. It shows how to get Ihe best from your machine, and how to make il work for you. The general style and level of presentation means ihal bolh ihe expert and beginner alike wilt feel comfortable with Ihe quality and quantity o!

Subjects covered include the general used computers, hardware design and peripheral devices like printers, disc drives, etc, and Networking. Programming hints and lips and various disciplines for making a better program are- discussed in some detail, including debugging of specific errors.

Standard programs are covered, such as wordpnocessors, spreadsheets, databases, graphics, communications, elc. A book you will enjoy To use as a reference, or read from cover to cover, over and over. It explains all the principles required by the hardware and associaled software, and also example listings for inclusion into custom programs, The manual first details Ihe basic principles of the mouse and a simple program which uses these principles.

This information should be adequate or most applications. However, it is possible to improve the performance ol the mouse by expanding on ihe principles already used in the software. This is again fully explained and an example program given.

It is possible to gain a full understanding of the mouse from this manual. For those not interested in exactly how the mouse functions, complete example programs are aiso included. These may be typed directly into Ihe micro, without the need for any understanding of the hardware or software involved, enabling the mouse to be used lor custom applications.

Beeb DOS provides a practical method of transferring information between these two micros. Beeb DOB is a collection o! Will only work on K Drsk Drives 8. Our micro plinths, have slots for maximum ventilation. The compuler slides neatly in the lower section allowing easy access to remove the lid. Software switched. Sections of image can be loaded separately. Part programming. Edit data in memory. There is also a blank check facility. More than one file per ROM permitted. The TEX erasers operate following the manufacturers specificalions to give the maximum possible working life by not erasing too fast.

Our Kit 14 is Ideal for the purpose. Supplied wired up with mains plug ready for use. Can be screwed to tloor or wall if required. Very uselul for tidying up all the mains leads from your peripherals. Up to four drives are supported by the IDE filing system 10 EPS, up to l wo drives can be attached to each expansion card, up to lour cards can be installed in a machine. An optional 20Mb or 40Mb hard disc can be supplied on the podule expansion card itself, wilh ils fast iransfer rate and power saving modes the drive is ideal for storing commonly used software such as the!

Fonts application. Once locked, the Configuration can not be changed until a secret password is used. By an innovative use of on-board memory, the card will remember its configuration, even if moved to another slot or even a different machine, this also includes the unique security features. Software supplied in, On-board ROM. Wo soldering required. Simply plug info the ellcted space.

These stunningly engineered, light weight but fast, 2. A novel feature of the hard cards is thai they can be easily removed and transported to another Archimedes, for example to make a hard disc backup, or to transfer saved files from work to home etc.

Security of files on the hard disc is ensured by our unique security password lock, which allows files to be read only, but not overwritten or deleted – ideal for use in school applications where the integrity of your master software needs io be retained. The cable is always being caught up in papers, tangled round equipmertf and other cables etc, and what about that cup of coffee spifled over your work! In use, there are no operating differences between the standard mouse and the new cordless mouse so all mouse funclions and mouse driven RISC software will be fully compatible, Pinpoint accuracy is ensured by a unique Accelerator button, which, when pressed, moves Ihe pointer by just a tiny amount or a large slow movement of the mouse, but by a large amount for a quick wiiz of the mouse.

Shop Hours: 9. Monday to Saturday. Thursdays 9am lo Spm. Free Customer\’s Car Park. WAT: Uk customers please add Specifications of all products are given in good faith but are subject to Change without notice. Some items vary in their availability. Watford Elecironics Terms and Conditions are available upon request. Please ring lor latest delivery situation. We have changed our name but not our service. Broad Oak Computers have been giving a superb service to Acorn Users for over a year.

But we don\’t just sell computers, we offer a complete service to the computer user and buyer which includes FREE local delivery and training, and full after sales support with a good choice of software always available. Our superb training facilities offer courses for all levels of experience including complete beginners. Our new correspondence courses are perfect for those with a busy lifestyle. This is especially true for Ehc RiscOS machines which, unlit recently, were over- shadowed by the Beeb.

The upgrades allow access to overlay key- boards, touch screens, modems and switches, but it is the utilities provided which are at the heart of the package. One of the utilities pro- vided is ASP, switch interface software which allows disabled users to access Rise OS appli- cations, by using a single switch device. Big Fir offers an enlarged and visible pointer whereas Close up presents a small magnified window which can move around the screen. Flasher gives a more visible flashing caret and a cursor-homing device.

With Chars, typing can be achieved, using the mouse to select characters from a screen display. The Acorn package also allows you to use Midi musical instrument digital interface equipment. The interface has four jack sockets designed to take switches and a familiar BBC-sly le user port connector and also provides a small through -connector with the printer connected at the end of the queue.

The overlay keyboard is extremely versatile, since it is simply a piece of paper. Basically, it provides a choice of icons which the user presses instead of the normal keys. Concept Designer and Conform make programming the device easy, if you want to create overlays for a specific purpose.

The Overlay Keyboard is made from high- impact plastic, which makes it both light and sturdy, meeting educational safety and design criteria extremely well. A single switch interface ia built in as standard and is used by inserting the switch jack plug into a socket which automatically disables the key- board and selects the switch.

Most important ly. Other input devices include touch screens see BA U February 92 issue , alternative keyboards, mice, traekerballs, switches and voice input devices. Two leading Touch Window systems i Keyboard Technology and Lmgenuity are made up of the same hardware, with differing software drivers. They are accurate, responsive and can be adapted to fit almost any monitor. Their high resolution, coupled wiih the ability to be removed from the monitor to be used as a Tracing window\”, add to their versatility.

One successful alternative to the mouse is the Deha Cat which can prove very useful in specific circumstances, especially if the joystick is firmly mounted and an extension tube is fitted over I he stumpy control stick. It can offer con- trol via foot buttons and mouth stick. If you require a better mouse than the standard one provided with the Archimedes, then I recom- mend Clares\’ rodent, which nestles comfortably in the palm of the band, allowing the fingers to rest more naturally over the buttons.

For a trackerball literally an upside-down mouse the sturdy Marconi unit has performed well over the years, but is shortly to be eclipsed by the new Ark Tracker. Not only is this tracker ball extremely rugged but it has all the mouse operations on separate buttons. A perspex over- lay can be added to help with locating the buttons and a separate switch provides control over the pointer speed. As the unit remains stationary, pointer operation is controlled, with the fingers alone negating the need to move the whole arm – useful for a disabled person who has fine motor control hut finds larger arm movement more difficult.

For those whose only means of communi- cation w ith a Beeb is their voice, the MicroMike has proven successful, giving voice- volume control over a variety of activities, Et can pro- mote vocal play, control of volume and liming of vocalisation. The popular Sid and Mike wjftware has now been converted to Archimedes use. Alternatives to the standard keyboard are available from Special Access Systems, starting with a metal keyguard which fastens on to the keyboard.

Holes on the keyguard permit hands lo rest on the guard, while fingers can access individual key holes. Users can also perform multi key presses as one operation and four programmable delays can cope with uncertain or over- long key presses. Furthermore, bright LEDs or programmable sounds can help those with sensory disabilities to know when a key has been pressed.

Contact Keyboards Keyboard Technology clip on over the existing keyboard, keeping unused keys hidden from prying fingers and making programs highly resistant to accidental crashes, Obviously such a device is tied to specific software applications and as yet. One advantage of these devices is that they provide sensory feedback to the user.

Incidentally, the Matchmaker interface can be used to connect virtually any input tie vice device switch, joystick, trackerball. Next month, we wilt look at the softw are options for special needs. Northwest SEMERC, under director Martin Little r right is a fountain of information, help and advice, if you are involved in special education, then the exhibition is worth a visit- Northwest SEMERC also publishes a special needs newsletter entitled Copy which is full of interesting case studies and reviews of how people are coping with the BBC, AQ, Archimedes and other machines.

Given the prestigious nature of the other nominees, this award is particularly satisfying. This made me wonder if it was possible to do something similar on my trusty Acorn machine, Well, it was, and here it is,.. The program draws a lace on the screen. Then slowly the face undergoes a metamorphosis, changing into another and another. It is a great showpiece, and has an almost hypnotic effect on people. Part of the inspiration came from an excellent book by A Dewdney called The Arm- chair Universe In fact, the data for the face is based on an example w ithin the book.

It then generates two completely different faces, let\’s call them face I and face! These faces are stored as PLOT commands in arrays. In the main loop, the co-ordinates for face] and face 2 are being averaged by a formula which, at the start of the loop is weighted solely towards face] but, at the end of the loop is is weighted solely towards face2, By using this formula, a face which lies somewhere in between can be generated.

This face is drawn on the shadow screen. When the drawing is finished, the active and shadow screens are switched, the weight is changed a little towards face2 and the main loop is entered again. The face is eventually changed totally into face 2, then face 2 is made into fa cel, a new face2 is generated and the changing process starts again. When you run Facet some data wilt be created, then you can run Face2.

The program consists of three parts: an initial- isation, a face generator and a main loop, which makes the face slowly change from one to another The most complex part of the program is the procedure PROCdistan. It takes the array distort and returns it distorted by the required amount. Two arrays, re fx and refy, are the coordinates for face l and face 2, The original coordinates are not changed at all by the distor- tion of the face and are these are therefore stored in a single array.

The distortion method is mainly a simple multiplication around a point. In the procedure, the distortion factors lucewittih etc,.. These points arc used in combination with the distortion factors w hen changing certain parts of the face. The first of the reference points is a global point, used for distorting the entire face. Reference points two to nine also go through the distortion calculation. Incidentally, line 1 in this loop contains the calculation that makes the face egg shaped, with the point either at the top or the bottom.

In the main loop the points of the face are distorted. The general distortion of the entire face is being handled by lines to This calculation is exactly the same as the one shown in lines to Most of the distortion of various parts of the face are made by multiplication around a point, but some require that the parts are moved too – such as in the case of the eyebrows.

This happens at lines and the distance between the eyes and also at line which produces the rais- ing of the eyebrows. The part of the face to be distorted by certain factors is controlled by counting the points in the face- drawing and by testing the counter. This is what happens in the various when blocks.

When the counter has reached 1 tt6. The distorted face is then stored in arrays, which takes place at lines and David Lawrence has also written a version of Face for eight-bit owners. To use it. The program works by calculating the in- between stages this will lake 20 or so seconds and then the animation takes place.

Indeed, why stop at the face? The program could be used on the entire human body! Either turn to our yellow pages section and type the program in, or if you are a subscriber, simply load it from yogr free monthly disc.

Yet in he Late 70s this was the faraway dream of a lew electronics boffins. Ami rite rest, as they say. It is that history which the BBC is celebrating in a special minme programme. The Trojan Mouse, due to be screened on Sunday April 5 see box for details. This programme will examine the effects of the computer literacy project and the BBC micro on personal comput- ing, as well as highlight the key developments Humble beginnings with the Acorn Atom of the past decade.

The magazine was actually launched in response to the success of both the TV computer literacy programmes and the Acorn -produced BBC micro – and we have been around ever since, charting the ups and downs of she Acorn market.

Roger Wil- son joined the company straight from university to help design the Atom and remains with the company today, developing new projects. Produced by Dave Thomas, who was responsible for producing previous computer pro- grammes, the programme is hosted by Ian MacNaught Davis, who appeared in the first series. The programme traces the evolution of the project, the related hardware and software achievements, and talks to many of the people who were involved along the way – from Cambridge graduates putting together the earliest prototypes, to teachers whose lives were completely changed by the introduction of the first BBC micros.

But the programme isn\’t just about the past – it brings you up to date with current developments and poses some questions about the future. Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry put forward the Acorn Proton design, which was to more than match the specification. In April Acorn was contracted to supply 12, machines that the BBC expected to sell by mail order The figure of I2,IH 0 machines was cautious – in fact, more than that were ordered before the first series was even screened.

The result? A runaway success for the BBC and Acorn with further series in the pipeline. Also the Micros iti Schools scheme was launched – the brainchild of Kenneth Baker, the education secretary at that time. While popular, it was to be dogged by produc- tion problems and by Christmas public enthusiasm had waned and one-third of the Electrons built were apparently never sold. The share price fell and finally the Italian computer giant, Olivetti, stepped in to save the company.

Curry and Hauser signed away their controlling interests to Olivetti, but both stayed on ns board directors. While cheaper to manufacture, the Master was more expensive to buy and. The Master Compact followed, but offered little that was new. It will be packed with interesting facts and figures, charting the ups and downs of the Acorn market and looking at some of the key people who have helped to shape home computing.

Producers involved with the early series will give their assessment of what has taken place over the past decade and we will trace the history of Acorn in detail, with a machine \’family tree\’ and profile the key people involved- There will also be an overview of the impact of computing on education, how the BBC micro changed some people\’s lives, and well be doing some crystal ball gazing into the future.

So, whether you are an avid BBC micro fan. Or you are just inter- ested in finding out why this machine has had such an impact on personal computing, be sure not to miss our special supplement. Place an order with your newsa- gent now – you can use the special coupon on page 85 of this issue. Or to subscribe to the magazine turn to page 29 for details of our special subscription offer. Based on Rise technology, the one in a I machines carried the BBC tag, Flu this was io cause much controversy us the Corpor- ation was seen lo be endorsing untried technology.

The original stop-gap Arthur operating system was later lo become Rise More affordable than the Arehi- 01 l-iV. The Learning Curve package, including an A and supporting software. The Archimedes A is the latest Acorn machine. Rise 08 3. But what of the future? Find out in next month\’s special issue of BAU. Marley Electronics new removable cartridge hard disc systems can work on the A through to the A including the new A as well as on BBC Master computers.

The secret lies in the hard disc cartridge which after dismounting can be taken o ut and sto red , o r be rep laced by another cartridge within a few seconds.

Security isso easy with these discs because you can simply take them home or lock them away. The unit can also be used as a backup system for internal hard drives as well. Once you have looked at the prices you will see that they are significantly cheaper than tape streamer sytems.

You also have virtually instant access to the information stored on them because they are a hard disc and therefore it is simply a matter of copying files from one disc to another instead of having to run lengthy restore programsto recover information from tape. Perhaps the biggest advantage of these units isthat when one cartridge is full then all you have to do is purchase a new cartridge and not a whole mechanism saving you a small fortune in the process. The mechanisms can be either 44MB or 90MB, however please note that the cartridges are not interchangeable between the two.

The mechanisms are true SCSI devices. Prices exclude VAT and carnage. Prices include mechanism, case, one cartridge, all necesary cables and software. Prices excluding interface card do not include software. Please call for prices. Unfortunately you cannot use he obvious: MOV ro. The instruction that we use is mvn or Move Not, but, to be even more awkward, you cannot simply say: mvn ro, M or even: mvn ru.

For some reason best known to Acorn, you have to supply the ones complement of the number. Remember with twos complement you change all the Os to Is and Is to Os and then add 1.

The easiest way to do it with the Basic assembler is to use the Basic keyword not. In fact, NOT actually performs the ones complement of its parameter – very handy!

Some other assemblers, such as Acorn\’s own macro-assembler Aaam, actually allow MOV w id negative numbers, and simply perform the necessary bit-shuffling on the constant and assemble a MVN instruction instead. Although you might have typed MOV ro. You might like to try typing in listing one in the yellow pages, which demonstrates ihe use of simple arithmetic on negative numbers. Try following through the stages by \’hand\” first to make sure you understand everything as it happens. I\’d like to outline the basics of the hexadecimal number system.

Clearly, referring to numbers in binary is quite contrived, not to say time consuming: \’Pardon? Was that 10 1 or 1 1 ? Some computer systems use base eight, or octal, which uses the decimal digits 0 to 7.

Converting from binary to octal is relatively easy – you simply take your binary number and chop it into three-bit chunks, which arc then converted to octal effectively decimal in this ease. For example, The disadvantage of octal is the chunks of three – not a nice power of two!

Of course, decimal only has 10 digits, so the letters A to F are used to represent the decimal numbers ID to Historically, eight bits arc called a byte. Words are 32 bits long in the Arm. Going the other way, half a byte four bits, one hex digit is, of course, a nibble. And no. I\’m not joking! Until now, Pve told you to keep the numbers that you toad into registers under , but not to worry about the size of intermediate results.

Last month 1 mentioned that the Arm is a bit processor and can therefore detd with 32 bits at a time. So, why can you not say mov KturartT? After all. The problem lies in the way Arm instructions are stored in memory and also explains why you have to use the ones complement notation for specifying numbers.

ADD, mul and so on, into the appropriate sequences of bits that the Ann understands. One of the good features of the Arm is that all iis instructions are encoded to the same length, namely 32 hits one word Ii is a coincidence that the processor is a bit processor. Many other processors such as the X is 24 bits. In such cases it is common lor the first byte for whatever to be the base instruction and, if necessary, subsequent bytes to form parameters for the operation. Anyway, back to he Arm.

With this in mind, she Arm can then make sense of the rest of the bits. Certain bits have a fixed meaning: bits 28 to 31 are the condition code more about these later in the series but others will vary according to the initial class\’ of instruction. The important upshot of all this is that all parameters for instructions have to fit within these 32 bits, hence you cannot supply a lull 32 -bit number to mov and so on.

They can also be found on the subscribed monthly disc. In fact, as you are allowed to supply a con- stant on the end of ait addition: add ro. From the grand total of 32, this leaves only 12 bits to specify the constant. Rather than doing the obvious, and making these 12 bits bits 0 to 1 1 of a 1 2-bit constant which w ould only allow the numbers 0 to , Acorn splits the 12 bits into two fields, one eight -bit constant and one four-bit shift\’.

The shift is how many hits the eight-bit con- stant is offset. I have to admit that this is a bit of fib – the shift value doesn\’t really work in this way. It is actually an offset in the opposite direction, so my shift of one above is actually stored internally as 15, two is represented by 14, and so on. Luckily you never need to worry about the way constants are stored within the instructions, since the assembler does all the work of convert- ing your number into the necessary eight-bit value and four-bit shift.

If a constant you give cannot be converted, you will get an error such as Bad immediate constant\’. Therefore all values 0 to are Fine they are all eight-bit numbers anyway , is line because only bit eight is set to 1 so it can be converted, however cannot. Both bits 8 and 0 are set, so the value\’ cannot be represent by an eight -bit number.

The more astute of you may have noticed that because only four bits are available for the shift, only 16 \”posit ions\’ are available for the he value field. Because of this, numbers such as cannot be represented. Although the width\’ of the number is only eight, so bit 8 and bi I are set only one posi- tion of shift is needed, which cannot be represented with one of 16 positions available.

However, is allowable since an actual shift of two shift field- 1 5, remember can be used with a value field of 1 Powers of two are often used within programs for a number of reasons and, as these have only one bit set. Listing two shows some examples of larger numbers. You won\’t be able to run this program as one of the lines causes an error – can you guess which one?

Fairly obviously, this is 32 bits wide\’ and therefore cannot fit into an eight-bit value field. By using the ones complement method, -1 becomes 0 which, as we all know, w ill easily fit into eight bits. Unfortunately if you\’ve already got 1 or 2 of the products you miss out. Now that\’s all changed. Real-Time Colour Video Digitiser for Archimedes computers is one of the most advanced video digitisers available, with features usually found only on top-of-the-range models for the IBM PC.

Unlike simple RGB video digitisers, techno-l handles colour in 25 bits with 7 bits luminance and 18 bits chrominance. By manipulating the image using hue, saturation and luminance, it mimics the human visual system.

The on-screen viewfinder displays live colour or monochrome in real-time. The frame buffer resolution is up to by 51 2 1 with programmable vertical and horizontal resolution. Complex frame manipulation features are built into the hardware including options to grab the current frame or previous frame and grab the last completed frame. All viewing, video and digitising parameters are software controlled, there are no presets, no setting up, simply connect to a video signal, load the software and digitise!

Advanced memory management system releases memory when not required allowing scanning and DTP in a 1 MB computer, Flexible zoom control allows palettes to be imported, tailored and re saved with more powerful tone and tinting features than most painting packages, Interactive help and a superb manual. Saves sections and palettes into any graphics mode. At the same lew price as the well rested original.

We not only offer professional advice when you are purchasing your system but we will also provide friendly assistance afterwards. All our products carry a 1 2 month full warranty for parts and labour. With rechargeable batteries you can take up to 50 pictures, storing them on its floppy disc. They can then be digitised using techno-l to provide the best images available on Archimedes computers.

Prices and specification are subject lo change without notice. The bit user should type in listing one and save it as! Then create a Mode 12 sprite in Paint called! Using Edit create an Obey file and enter the following text. Now double clicking on the I Chords icon in the directory viewer will run the application.

Eight-bit users should type in listings three and four and save them asChordsI and Chords! To make a tune come alive you need to play a few well-chosen notes at the same lime – notes which harmonise with the main theme. Anyone who plays the piano will know that certain notes, when played together, form a chord. In published sheet music the accompani- ment harmony is often shown using chord symbols.

Guitar players are lucky – they some- times even gel a little drawing which shows them where to put their fingers. Some years ago, when 1 felt that the world badly needed another guitar player. J learnt all the chords I needed using songbooks and dia- grams in a chord dictionary.

More recently, when I wanted to learn chords on a musical keyboard, I decided to enlist the help of my computer. Hence the birth of Chords. The application Chords is a chord dictionary with built-in sound, but it also has a simple sequencing feature. Even if you are not learning to play, just listening to the different chords and the way they work together can be fascinating.

Clicking select over the icon brings up two windows: one contains the music keyboard, the other the selection menus. On the left are the 12 basic chord names from C through to B. In the centre there are 15 chord forms: the basic major and minor triads – triad means three notes – and a selection of higher forms. If you tire a bit hazy about your harmonies, then take a look at our box called natural progressions, I Select the chord name, form and position from the menus, and the keyboard window will show which keys to press and what the notes are called.

Meanwhile, the chord is played through the computer sound system and through a Midi interface and keyboard, if one is Connected- Pressing Adjust makes a selection without running the demonstration. Notes played on a Midi keyboard are also shewn on the display so the piayer can confirm the correct fingering.

Each time the mouse is clicked on Play seq. To enter a sequence, click over enter to reveal a line of text which can be edited in the usual way. Rewind puts the sequence pointer back to the start and Help displays a reminder of the sequence notation. When the Arpeggio option is ticked, chords are piayed with a delay between each note. This is not a true arpeggio but it makes the individual notes easier to hear.

Delay sets the delay in centi-seconds – from five to is reasonable. The usual drawing com- mands are then used without having to refer to window co-ordinates. PROCforegnd then directs output back to the normal screen. The selection window is constructed entirely from icons this method allows faster access than Wimp menus.

Change 59 to 47 to drop the sound one octave. The data defining each chord is stored at he end of the program. For each form the root position is given first, then the three inversions, then the name for use in the menu. Our note keyboard is numbered from one to nine then A to N. Only chords in the key of C are stored\’ other keys are derived by adding an offset, A more elegant approach would be to take the basic triad and alter or add to it, according to a formula. A whole range of altered chords could then be produced quite easily.

Some notes have different names but sound the same, for instance C and Db Logic in PROCplav determines the appropriate name to print on the keys but it is not always grammatically accurate – another reason why the chord data would be better derived from a formula.

No error checking is performed here. An unrecognised entry will default to a C or a major chord, depending on where the error is. Selection is made using the cursor keys, a lick indicating the selected item, return plays the chord and space steps through the sequence, Pressing to allows the sequence to be edited.

Insert editing is provided, using cursor left; RrGHT, and delete. Press return when it is finished. As there are only three sound voices and many chords have four notes, notes are played one-at-a-ttme in arpeggio style. The program is in two parts. It uses the key of C as an exam- ple. The note that the chord is named after is known as the root of the chord.

Moreover, in a root chord – shown on the right – this note is also the lowest note in the chord. Inversions are a re-arrangement using the same notes, but where the root is not the lowest note.

To try out progres- sions, in other words a sequence of chords that lead naturally from one to another, the sequence option can be used. Chords built on F and G follow on from C pretty well. Numerous songs have been written with just C F and G, known as the three chord trick, and some rock groups, such as Status Quo, have built whole careers playing little else. The tricky bit is to find a sequence which progresses smoothly and at the same time harmonizes with a complex melody.

Each chord form brings a different quality or feel to the music. A major chord has an air of finality: indeed, most tunes end on the major chord of the key. A chord like O, however – shown on the left – lends a feeling that there is more is to come and so this type of chord is often found in songs at the end of a phrase or sentence.

Play C7 and hold on to it for several seconds. The ear feels uncomfortable. Something should happen. Now play F Major The ear is satisfied. The C7 chord has resolved on to the F Major. Sharpening the fifth that is, the fifth note up from the root of a major chord gives an augmented triad, which tends to resolve on to a chord with a root a fourth above it\’s own, try C plus F. Any note of the augmented can be the root and this applies also to the diminished chord.

Notice how it sounds unfinished. Would Gsus4 be better than the second G 1 The minor sharp- ened seventh m 7 for short is an example of an altered chord that definitely belongs in a mystery movie! Inversions, although containing the same notes, don\’t always have precisely the same effect. C major in the 1st inversion doesn\’t sound quite as final as the root position.

Play C Major seventh Cm? Being adjacent, they sound discordant on their own, but in harmony with E and G, the sound is, well Dealer enquiries welcome. Available now. The usual method is to transform the data into a linear form and then to perform a linear regression. Unfor- tunately this gives unequal weightings to the data points, depending on the transforma- tion used. The xv data set is read into an array, and the calculated value of y is found for each value of x The observed y v a lue is s u btracted a nd the result squared.

The squared values are summed for each. If the sum of squares has decreased, a is again reduced and the pro- cess repeated. Otherwise the direction of change in a is reversed and a is increased. This process is repeated until the sum of squares again increases. The direction of change is then reversed and the step size reduced to 1 per- cent. The iteration continues until the next overshoot\’, the step size is reduced to 0.

This process continues until the step size is 0. The data should be stored in a previously prepared data file – the required format of the data file is described later. Once the data file has been read, the program plots out the data points on automatically sealed axes and then presents a menu containing a set of curve options, plus an option to enter any other function of x in terms of a and b.

The iteration then proceeds, is monitored by a counter and timer, and the display of the ratios of succes- sive sums of squares. The program then prints out the values of a and b and the function fitted, together with the residua] sum of squares about the tilted line and the root mean square. The curve of best fit is then drawn on the plot of the original data points.

By using a Mode 36 screen, it is possible to show the curve parameters and the fitted line on the same screen, and print it out if required.

Next, an anal- ysis of variance is produced, showing the total sum of squares for y, the sum of squares accounted for by the regression, and the residual sum of squares. The variance ratio, F, gives an estimate of the significance of the fitted line for the num- ber of degrees of freedom in the data.

If the curve fitted was a straight line then the regres- sion coefficient r is printed. The main use of the pro- gram is to fit calibration curves to biochemical data and [hen to use these curves to cal- culate the concentrations of test samples. What we did originally with the A was stuff it full of lots of memory and put this, that and the other in there. What we\’ve effectively done is pull a lot of that out and said \’if you really want to get into this type of machine you can have a lot lower entry price point.

So what about the A? Is there any truth to the price rumours? There are always rumours. I think our statement is exactly the same as on the A We will sell the product at the price that we believe will make it competitive within the market place. It\’s a tough economy out there, and we can\’t sit in our ivory towers and ignore the fact that we\’re competing for everybody\’s money. We\’re not particularly competing against Sega or Nintendo or Atari or whoever, we\’re competing against the money that may be spent on a holiday or a TV or a video.

We\’re competing for people\’s cash. Obviously we\’ve got to make our product an exciting proposition and if it\’s a question of putting more software with it or cutting the price, we will obviously look at that.

How many CDTVs have you sold? It\’s about The trade-in seems to have had a tremendous effect. The great thing is, if you\’ve had your Amiga for say four years, which quite a few thousand people have, that you\’re getting a disk drive with CDTV and so your software will be compatible, and you\’re obviously getting a new warranty on your product.

So it\’s quite a good deal. I think I\’m confident of us winning the CD war against, say, Philips, because quite frankly the people who ow far away is the replacement for the A? We\’ve got to address our population, which Philips hasn\’t got. So certainly in the short term I don\’t think we have a particular problem.

Who knows what\’s going to happen in two or three years time? How many do you expect to sell between now and Christmas? About 50, It\’s certainly been talked about. I think that it probably is a likelihood, but I don\’t think you\’ll see it much before Christmas. When will the AS70 be In the shops? This month July. Regarding the A Plus, our reader response to Its demise has been pretty negative. I thought you did quite a good hatchet job. Well, the reaction was pretty bad.

Yes, I was speaking to someone in the trade about it. What we can\’t tell people is what our overall game plan is. And they get very emotional about this product called the A that they\’ve had and they\’ve got very close to, and rightly so. But the A is the first of the new machines that will be coming out. And who says in maybe a year\’s time they\’re going to look at it and say \’well, Christ, actually Commodore did do the right thing. But that machine, the A, is a better deal than the A The manufacture and reliability is much much, much better.

We\’ve shipped something like 65, As to the trade since April. Out of all of the ones that have been sold, we haven\’t had one PCB failure. Not one. Now that is quite incredible. They\’ve got this thing about the DMA bus which is all singing and dancing and wonderful, but quite frankly that\’s not true. There\’s 70 people producing cards at the moment that run on the A What we\’ve done is, we\’ve gone \”k PCMCIA card adaptor for the A is the wise way to go\” out and taken a standard architecture that will give people a better choice and make it easier for people to develop for that card.

Now our theory is that, for instance, if you buy an A you don\’t have to go out and buy a traditional hard disk and have to open your machine and put it in and all that business, you go out and buy a 20Mb, 40Mb, 60Mb card. Or you go and buy flash RAM or whatever. One of the reactions people had was: \’Oh. Did you expect the bad reaction over the A Plus?

I think in real terms we knew there was going to be a reaction. It\’s the A series rather than just the A Plus. You\’ve got to think that we sold 1. It\’s been very close to either end users or retailers for a very long time. And people don\’t like or accept change very easily.

I can well remember when Ford brought out the Sierra. People hated it, but now no- one says anything about it – it\’s totally accepted. They took a radical step, which is what we\’ve done. It\’s the same with the Amiga; it will take a little time for people to accept. But for the end user, the machine has got to be better.

Take on-site maintenance. Would you like to take the opportunity to reassure the A owners that they\’re not in possession of a dinosaur? No they\’re not, absolutely true, because the whole thing about the Amiga technology was that we would try and make the people\’s machine grow as we released new products. But if you bought a 1.

We\’ll still carry on bringing out peripherals such as printers, monitors, drives and RAM. There\’s no way that we\’re going to allow our user base to suffer.

But what we\’ve done is taken advantage of new technology – surface mount and the card slot. There are a number of people The A may have disappointed many but, seen as the first of a new wave of Amigas, ft becomes a more tantalising proposition rumoured to be. I\’ve heard three people talking about it. I actually think that it\’s the wise way to go. To make that adaptor wouldn\’t be very expensive. Technology-wise it\’s quite inexpensive.

If you\’re an A user and you haven\’t got a hard disk or whatever, it\’s a tremendous way to expand. Do you know of any developers Intending to produce serious software for the A\’s slot? There\’s a number of people looking at that at the moment.

I think, quite frankly, that it\’s going to be a good six months before you see that, for a number of reasons: the cards are still a little bit expensive but obviously the price is reducing dramatically as more people get into the market.

But there are quite a number of people, particularly in the States, who are talking about that at the moment. How far away Is a replacement for the A? About four months. Can you give us any details? The range that we had last year, apart from the A which we\’ve re-positioned so far as pricing is concerned, is going to be quite different to the range we will see at the end of this year. We are trying to make sure that we have very competitive products.

What I would say is that if people are looking for a machine that is as inexpensive as the A, they may well be disappointed, because the new machine will have higher specifications and obviously that does carry a cost. Is there any truth to the rumours of an \’AA \’ chip set? Well, if you think about it, the first chip that we ever released was the \’single A\’, and then we had the ECS which is the \’A Plus\’ chip set, if you like, so I suppose a \’double A\’ wouldn\’t be out of the question.

All I would say again is that we realise that we have to keep ahead of the game. Whether it\’s a \’double A\’ whether it\’s an \’A Plus\’ or whatever, it wouldn\’t be out of the question to see Commodore releasing new chip sets, because that\’s our game.

If we\’re to stay ahead of the competition, we have to do something. Just by dropping a or in there – that\’s great but that really just gives you speed; it doesn\’t increase the graphics power. It would be silly to say that we\’re not thinking about other chip sets, but a chip set for an Amiga takes a very long time to develop if we\’re to remain compatible with what\’s already out Faithful but ageing, the A needs a revamp.

Does the A detailed below fit the bill? And I think that it would be wrong for Commodore to release a new chip set that hasn\’t got a high degree of compatibility, because obviously people may want to buy the new chip set and already have a software base. I\’m not going to say that everything will always run on a new chip set, but we\’re after high degrees of compatibility, which takes longer than just producing something from scratch. There\’s been a pirate beta test version of Klckstart 3 knocking around on some bulletin boards.

When will we see this as a legal product? I don\’t know. We have just released 2. There were rumours for probably 18 months or two years about version 2 – I think as soon as we released 1. So, it would be quite sensible to think there was going to be some delay there. Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

I would say to the readers that obviously if they\’ve got an A I think that the A isn\’t necessarily the right way to go – maybe an A would be – because the A doesn\’t offer that much more to someone who\’s already got a Also they should think about the reasons why we implement new things such as the PCMCIA smart card – that in time will be one of the biggest bonuses for the Amiga because it will make us a standard within the industry; that means that they\’re going to be able to buy add- ons and accessories a great deal cheaper than they probably could do today.

It won\’t happen overnight, but it will be there. That obviously made it expensive to start with. And it\’s neat – you\’ve got removable hard disks there haven\’t you? You haven\’t asked me about the Amiga Well, we\’ve heard rumours of it.

I was just going to say, I don\’t know of a product called the Amiga The information comes from a message posted on Usenet, the international electronic mail network, and is allegedly posted by a third party developer for Commodore US which is beta testing the products. The information seems plausible, but we cannot verify it because the machines are covered by Non- Disclosure Agreements. It is certain though that new Amigas are expected. The A, a machine to be introduced above the A, is said to be based around Motorola\’s latest central processing unit, the Along with the other new machine, it boasts new graphics and sound chips, dubbed the \’AA\’ chip set, and version 2.

Its floppy disk is a high density device giving twice the capacity of a normal floppy but, unlike some high density floppy drives available with the A, this is not achieved by cutting its speed.

Based on a 16MHz processor, it has variously been called the A or the Classic, but given that \’Classic\’ is registered to Apple and Kelly Sumner has denied all knowledge of an A, neither of these names are to be taken too literally. Like the A, it includes the \’AA\’ chip set and Kickstart 2. It has the same high density floppy drive as the A and a 52Mb hard disk. Both machines utilise the Zorro ill expansion slots as found on the A, but the machine known as the A, housed in a shallow pizza- box style case, has more limited expansion capabilities.

A number of new graphics modes are supported: x and x interlaced with up to colours on screen at once with no restrictions; and x and x interlaced using HAM to give up to colours. The Amiga\’s palette has been expanded from a choice of colours to a choice of In addition, a SuperHAM mode has been included which enables all of these colours to be used at once in the standard Amiga resolutions with restrictions similar to the current HAM mode. Screens in this mode may be animated at up to 30 frames per sec.

The Amiga\’s hardware sprites have been improved such that they can now consist of up to 16 colours, and be a maximum of 64 pixels wide. Their height is unrestricted.

Ricker is removed from all interlaced modes by means of a built-in de-interlacer chip. The new Amigas have been beefed up on the sound front, too. They both come with a built-in digitiser which will sample sounds with 8-bit resolution at 22KHz.

Sound output is even more impressive. Four bit channels are provided which are capable of reproducing frequencies of up to 56KHz.

These channels can be used to emulate eight 8-bit channels at 56KHz or 16 8-bit channels at 28KHz. A new Motorola Digital Signal Processor chip is also believed to be included with both models – this is a microprocessor in its own right, working alongside the central processor.

It is a bit device clocked at 27MHz that can be programmed to perform complex sound processing operations at high speed. These could include sophisticated filtering and sound manipulation effects. No prices or details of availability are known, except that the cheaper of the two will come in at a price above that of the A, and that at least one of them is due in four months.

The verdict was, to say the least, highly critical – much of the flak targetted at the Amiga A Which, as you might expect, provoked a number of enraged A owners to set the record straight I am a very proud owner of one and think this is a remarkable computer!

The A is the first computer I have bought, having arrived at this decision to buy one because my SEGA console is not what I want anymore – and I love it! It\’s more compact than the bulky, slab-like , and looks more attractive!

Granted, its arrival is a bit obsolete, but don\’t knock ft until you\’ve tried it! I totally resent the remarks made by some of your readers about its size and its seemingly \”console\” like approach. These comments come from a bunch of closed-minded misnomatics who cannot swallow the fact that the A is history and that the light isn\’t in their ball court any more! You lose, oh brainless ones! Long live the A Gary Entwistle Tonbridge Hmmm, I think \’childish playground attitude\’ is a bit strong there, Gary – we adopted an even handed response to the story in our news reporting and in these letters pages.

But many A owners were somewhat peeved and said so in no uncertain terms. Now, I don\’t want to get drawn into a My-Amiga-is-better- than-your-Amiga type argument here, but hey! I\’m sure the A has got a helluva lot going for it. As you say though, the err In particular I was surprised at Margaret Haedicke\’s assessment that the A Is \”mainly for games\” and Mr Scott\’s view that the A was unexpandable. What utter rubbish! Please explain to me how a machine with exactly the same processor and graphic specifications as the A, but with the added advantage of a built-in hard drive interface and TV modulator, can in any way be described as a games machine?

The almost crazed and illogical ravings that I was forced to read in your magazine really made little sense. The authors were obviously just jealous that now people can go out and buy an A for the same price as an A and revel in the advantages of hard drive interface, portability and incredible reliability that the new machine offers.

Certainly to describe the A as a games machine or as inferior to the A is showing crassness not worthy of an Amiga owner! In my mind the A Is a worthy entry level machine offering a cheap and easy upgrade path to hard drive ownership whilst still having two expansion slots like the original A The A is the perfect machine for home and hobbyist use; I am only disappointed that it was not released several years ago.

Certainly no other computer can offer such power at such a low price. Stick with the Amiga and Commodore! The new range of Amigas and the new improved \”The crazed and illogical ravings I was forced to read really made little sense graphics and sound which are on the way will certainly be something worth beating the PC owning world with! The main criticism levelled at the A is its alleged lack of expandability.

As such it\’s seen as a games machine. Like so many new advances though, it\’s a question of Time Will Tell. The quicker the A\’s on the street, the better. I, however, think it is an excellent move. The Big C has already announced that it intends to release new Amigas soon – as the A is just a taster of things to come. OK, so the A will be incompatible with a lot of hardware, but before people go jumping to conclusions and start asking where this leaves users who wish to expand their machines, consider the following The majority of people who will want to purchase the A are people who not only want to play games but also to use it to type out the odd letter.

The A Is a step forward for the Amiga and is perfectly designed hardware wise – if you want to load the Amiga with accelerators and the like then buy a machine that is designed to do that. Maybe one of Commodore\’s new machines will be a portable; the miniaturisation employed in the A sure makes this possible.

Existing A owners must not despair, the A will ensure the future of the Amiga in the 90s and beyond. Philip Chung Cheltenham Yes, and in your last paragraph you hit the nail firmly on the head. Don\’t think there\’s much chance of a portable though. The A is quite simply a recased A Plus but with the bonus that you can now have a hard drive, for the price of an external drive and a half meg upgrade, just eighty pounds!

So you now don\’t have to pay the ridiculous price of three hundred pounds for the simplest hard drive. Your average Amiga owner aspires to a hard drive and a few megs of extra memory at maximum.

You can have all of these things on an A for a lot less dosh than an A, this is a fact. The simple fact is that the A is here to stay and all the whingeing in the world from the techies who mourn the loss of their best friend will not bring back the over-sized A I had an A for three years and loved the machine but time moves on, and in my opinion the A is much more desirable than the chunky old faithful and also more reliable.

The simple fact is that the Real 3D images I now produce on an A look just as good as the ones produced on an A But now I can save them to my hard drive! It is just a pity that Amiga Shopper couldn\’t take a positive attitude and welcome the A for what It is, the best cheap home computer on the market, which will \’The A is much more desirable than the chunky old faithful\” give you access to the wonders of DTP, 3D modelling, word processing and perhaps even the odd game at a reasonable price with great reliability.

Steve Summersklll Wakefield Fair enough. I honestly don\’t think you can accuse us of taking a negative attitude though, Steve. Maybe we didn\’t go over the top about the arrival of the A but then I don\’t feel there\’s a great deal to go over the top about.

It\’s a neat machine, sure – but nothing to knock your socks off. Now that\’s not being negative – being negative is me printing in a national magazine \”The A is a waste of space\”. Which it ain\’t. Just because Commodore brings out the A and stops producing the A everyone seems to think It is the end of the Amiga. So many of the letters I have read gave me the impression that the writer was going to do a Lemming!! Total flops brought out by Commodore as the next step forward. You have to remember that with the bad you get the good.

It is not technically superior. The A has not yet reached its peak, there are a good years left in the old girl yet. You don\’t think the third party developers are going to chuck all their A goodies and start producing Aonly goods, when there must be less than 10, As in the UK homes, if that.

One other thing, why should A users worry whether the A is upgradable or not, if someone wants to buy an upgradable machine, then they won\’t buy the A, which will show in the numbers sold, and make Commodore realise what a mistake it has made. All you readers stop fretting, you already own a good, solid, upgradable machine, why worry about a machine you don\’t like anyway? Also what is this obsession with chucking the Amiga and getting a PC?

There\’s one line of argument, ably presented in the next letter funnily enough, which claims that the A range was scrapped precisely because of its upgradability. But it\’s also got a lot to do with cheaper construction costs and greater reliability. Expandability will come for the A though because there\’s always a demand for maximising what you\’ve already got without splashing out on a brand new machine. That\’s what propels the PC market and presumably that\’s why a few readers thought the PC was a more future- proof option.

It\’s got A owners everywhere paranoid that the third- party developers will just turn their backs on them as if the mighty A never existed.

As for becoming obsolete, it is still an Amiga after all, with the same software base as the and , and that\’s not going to change much for this new computer. Commodore\’s marketing strategy is obvious; keep the games players with the A and force the hobbyists and \”serious\” users into buying a bigger, more expandable machine.

This has always been their game plan but the A proved to be just as expandable as any other Amiga. There are a wide variety of peripherals for the A; high power accelerators, bit graphics boards, 10Mb of RAM, anything a serious user would demand from a computing system. I think in the eyes of Commodore it became too easy to transform an A into a beast more powerful than the top-of-the- line Surface Mount Technology will take care of that, and then customers will have to get a bigger Amiga, or a big ugly PC.

Commodore will have to develop a more advanced middle-range machine if It doesn\’t want to be alienated from the \”serious market\” of the PC and Macintosh, especially with the current pricing trend. Amigas are no longer the great bargain they used to be, and the new range will stand or fall on its own merits, not a cheap price tag.

This can be done, but the Amiga is going to have to evolve into a more powerful machine, sporting a as standard, and a and af least true bit graphics for the top of the range. As for existing Amiga owners, I say only this. Don\’t worry about your computer becoming obsolete. It\’s the A the third parties might not support.

Anyway, if your system does what you bought it for, what\’s the problem? PB Stanley Stamford, Lines I think the Amiga is already alienated from the serious market if you define this as being anything other than video and bit graphics work. While Amigas are clearly capable of handling serious applications, they\’re not perceived as anything more than souped-up consoles by the business user. Yet with the A you have a machine that\’ll give most Macs and PCs a run for their money.

There\’s one way this can be rectified and that\’s for Commodore to start promoting it as a serious machine range. Full stop. Gosh it Is a \”nightmare\” – that blue screen and nasty topaz font mocking my lower status in life. All those bugs! Oh, it\’s so slow and horrible! Heck, I can barely show my face in public without being pointed out as a 1. But there\’s little I can do to improve my predicament.

Looks like I\’m stuck with this archaic 1. Frankly I\’d rather Shopper devoted a little more space to telling me how to make use of what I\’ve got rather than suggesting 1, different ways to spend money I haven\’t got. I appreciate that Mr Smiddy did, in fact, devote his column to updating a previous program for 1.

Please Inform your staff that many of us are operating on far less than what they consider to be the minimum requirement for an Amiga system. Ade Rixon Warrington We try and draw a balance which is more heavily weighted to tips, advice and tutorials than new product reviews, but we can\’t ignore advances.

However, you\’ll be pleased to know that next ish we\’re bringing you a 32 page Amiga Answers Special designed to help you get more from your machine.

The following might save your readers some trouble. At one point I found that the internal disk drive in my Amiga was scratching and destroying disks.

I removed, cleaned and replaced the recording head. Realignment was a bit of a fiddle but for a long time I kept having to repeat the realignment at frequent intervals, although there was no obvious fault. To cut a long story short, I discovered that the trouble was caused by magnetic interference from the monitor whether from the loudspeaker magnets or the tube field coils, I do not know.

The internal magnetic shield of the computer was not totally effective. The cure: a steel biscuit tin lid is now attached to the underside of the shelf which supports the monitor above the right hand side of the computer. This has proved completely effective.

H Owens Thanks there. H – send me your address and I\’ll send you a fiver. One this month, five the next! Now can we leave poor Mark alone? I use several of the music programs and am finding this of great assistance in the line of business I have chosen following my retirement after 35 years in the police service.

However, Jason omitted to mention probably the most pertinent point regarding PD houses. He did not say that there is a positive chance that some of your readers who send their orders and their money to some of the PD houses who advertise In your magazine will not receive a reply, nor their disks, nor their money back.

It goes without saying that many of the \’houses\’ give an excellent service and, in one instance, 6 disks arrived at my address within 36 hours of my posting the order. However, unfortunately, there are those who do not supply the goods, nor do they return the cheque.

They cash it instead! I have been defrauded three times. For various reasons I\’m not prepared to name the \’houses\’ who have failed in their commitment and, in doing so, have indirectly discredited your magazine. Another point Jason failed to mention was the fact that there is an unnecessary amount of obscene and other unpleasant language used on some of the PD disks.

I don\’t suppose I need to go into detail but I will refer to one particular music disk I bought. Being new to it all, and self-taught, I obviously make many mistakes when trying to run my software. On one of these disks, each time I do something wrong, a rather disgusting message flashes up saying \’F Off, Lamer\’ etc.

Is there any need for this? What sort of people are these faceless perverts who thrill to using this language, knowing full well that the persons most likely to be confronted with it are young persons and children? I realise, of course, that there is nothing you can do about the way sick programmers write their materials, nor is there much you can do about the contents of disks sold by the PD houses.

However, I would like to know what sort of scrutiny you subject your advertisers to before accepting their money for advertising. Are any steps taken to check out the bona fides of would-be advertisers, or can anyone who might use a garden shed or a spare room in a lodging-house as a temporary address set up a business as, and advertise as, a PD house?

I am sure most of your 45, readers would be delighted to know the answers of these questions. JD Martin Hull Well, first of all, I\’m sorry to hear you\’ve been subjected to abuse and ripped off on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, in the first instance, we have to take adverts placed with us on the basis of trust. Other than the normal credit checks we can\’t assess a company\’s morality.

It\’s only when we receive complaints from individuals who\’ve been mistreated that we prevent that company from appearing in our pages. And then again, we can\’t rely on isolated incidents – there has to be a number of complaints from people over a period of time so as to make sure we\’re just not acting on someone\’s private vendetta or a temporary mail order processing problem.

So I\’m afraid it\’s a difficult judgment to make – after all, what\’s the alternative? Like all walks in life, there\’s always a small minority who spoil it for everybody. So, I guess you just have to make sure you deal with reputable suppliers I own one of these machines and after reading the Diamond advert in your August edition on page I was feeling rather ill.

Could you write some kind of soothing words to restore my lost faith in the machine, if not I might just do something drastic like get CD-I instead. I have had my CDTV for just two months and am amazed by it. I am writing this letter on the machine at the same time as listening to a music CD.

Try doing that on the CD-I unit! I have seen the first batch of releases on the machine and it really Is a joke. Now on to the writer of the advert. If he had taken time to actually use the CDTV and some research, he would know that the machine is not dead and that most of the owners are very pleased with the machine and that good software was starting to appear.

Sim City is absolutely amazing. It has four full sound tracks on ft. I have also had a look at the Trivial Pursuit game. This is one that interests me because of the size of it. It comprises of two CDs. That\’s over a gigabyte of information! If I were the editor of your magazine I would drop the Diamond advert because It doesn\’t do much for sales of your magazine. Diamond might be better off trying to beat that.

Bet it can\’t Go on – join the Amiga\’s liveliest letters pages! Did you buy Betamax when everybody bought VHS? Have you booked your summer holiday In Yugoslavia? I bet you\’ve got CDTV. Well don\’t worry we won\’t take the mlcky anymore because your not the only person who ell for all the hype, but don\’t panlck, Copfa nd os always Is here lo save the day. Now who was it who said that ads were boring?

We\’ll have the dosh for the re-run too lads! Could you create the next bestseller? Thanks to packages such as Palace\’s Shoot\’em up Construction Kit and – more recently – Domark\’s 3D Kit, Amiga owners have been able to churn out fast arcade games complete with fancy sprites, smooth scrolling and even solid 3D graphics with not a single opcode or status register in sight.

Although Europress has gone to great lengths to stress AMOS\’ other uses, it doesn\’t take a brain the size of a planet to realise the true nature of the beast. High speed hardware scrolling, copper rainbow effects, blitter objects and interrupt driven music are hardly the kind of facilities that your average spreadsheet programmer is ever going to need. There\’s no doubting that arcade fanatics are certainly well served, but developers have sadly ignored the one type of game that arguably started the computer gaming craze in the first place – adventure games.

Shame on them! Loading up the two demo games that are bundled with Visionary one of which is a very p r. You are walking through the sand dunes. I 5 You are standing in a neadou, bg an old unnrfpn shark. They are quite simply of commercial quality and as a yardstick of the program\’s capabilities, Visionary seems almost too good to be true. All this power comes at a price, however. Visionary is actually a BASIC-like programming language which has been specifically designed to handle the task of writing adventure games.

So what\’s the point? I hear you ask. Sure, it could be argued that AMOS is just as qualified to handle adventure games, but what makes Visionary so special is that the heart of all adventure games, the parser, is built in to Visionary so you don\’t have to worry about coding your own. As a result, your adventure games will boast a parser that would have turned even Infocom the masters of the adventure game genre green with envy. Obviously Visionary allows you to modify it to suit your own particular needs, but it\’s nice to This Dungeon Master clone serves as a perfect example of what is possible with Visionary.

It\’s just a shame that it takes so much work to achieve this sort of result! Both of these programs are Shell-based, so you\’re going to need a pretty good knowledge of AmigaDOS to get them running. To create an adventure, you must first produce a series of source files that are then passed to the Visionary compiler for compilation. If no errors are found they usually are!

Visionary programs don\’t just consist of a single source file. Instead, each aspect of your game must be split into a strict series of separate files that define such things as the startup code, the map data and objects.

Each of these files must follow strict filename conventions for the compiler to recognise them. If all the source files that are needed are not present, the Visionary compiler will take exception and throw your know that this all important routine is available \’off the shelf so to speak.

Traditional adventures were completely text based – instead of relying upon fancy graphics, the adventure weaved a yarn through the quality of its descriptions.

The player interacted with the game by typing in English sentences \’attack editor with sharpened mouse\’, for example. Parser – All adventure games that are played by entering English sentences via the keyboard Take apple\’, for example share a common routine called a parser. A parser is a routine which takes the string that the player enters and breaks it down into a series of commands and parameters that the game can act upon.

In the example above, the parser would break the string \’Take Apple\’ down into one command and one parameter – \’Take\’ and \’Apple\’. The most important of these two files is the. This file basically contains all the startup information required to get your adventure running plus a few global definitions that you may need to make. Once this has been processed, the compiler then reads in the rooms file which contains the code to control the map data and the player\’s movement within your virtual world.

GnU Visionary insists that the source code for your adventure game is split into a set of discrete source files. Here\’s only a small section of the absolutely massive rooms file which Is required for the Visionary demo game including IF.. If the parser finds the word \’Take\’ for example, it would then check to see whether a parameter follows. If it doesn\’t, you\’ll be presented with a line that reads something like \’Take what? If a parameter does follow though, the parser knows that because the player is trying to \’take\’ something, the parameter must contain the name of an object within the current room that can be picked up.

It then checks to see whether that object is there and whether it can be picked up and then acts accordingly. Simple parsers are generally quite easy to write because the \’commands\’ that they accept follow a strict format. A decent parser however like the one in Visionary is far more flexible and will accept \’Take the red apple\’ or just \’Take apple\’ without batting an eyelid. Compiler – A compiler is a separate program that converts the ascii text file that you create your source code into a stand-alone program.

Although still not as fast as pure assembly language, compiled programs usually run considerably faster than their interpreted counterparts AmigaBASIC Is interpreted, for example.

By defining discrete \’views\’, resolutions and screen modes can even be mixed a HAM picture in the top half of the screen and a medium resolution text region in the bottom half, for example.

If you need to change any part of your graphics, Visionary also supports a number of generic drawing commands some of which put even AMOS in the shade! Hot spots are also another powerful aspect of Visionary. Unlike a traditional graphic adventure, the player of your game can interact with objects using the mouse simply by setting up a series of hotspots. For example, if a scene contained an object such as a copy of Amiga Shopper, the player could examine the object simply by clicking on it.

Your games aren\’t just restricted to graphics. Having struggled through assembly language, Cobol, C and AMOS, I must admit that the thought of learning another language didn\’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm. Aegis claims that Visionary is a tracks and graphics. Using its powerful screen buffers facility, it\’s quite possible to create anything from a simple graphic adventure like Magnetic Scrolls\’ The Pawn to even very straightforward language, but I\’m afraid I\’m not totally convinced.

Although its command set is fairly straightforward, the amount of work required to get a game off the ground is quite over the top. Many of the coding tasks could easily have been handled via some form of source code generator. It took me little more than a quarter of an hour to realise that some form of source code generator was needed, so I\’m surprised that Aegis itself didn\’t come to the same conclusion.

I have to say that I\’m impressed with the power of Visionary. It isn\’t the answer to everyone\’s dreams, but coders will no doubt love it. If you can face learning another new programming language, perseverance will reap substantial reward. The results obtainable from Visionary are out of this world. It\’s just a shame that so much work is involved! It\’s just a shame that it isn\’t more accessible for the average user. Even if you have had a lot of experience at word processing, the transition to desktop publishing is not always an easy one.

Word processing places certain restrictions on what you can and cannot do, it\’s a bit like painting by numbers. Desktop publishing is all about freedom of expression – you are given the canvas, the brushes and the paint, the rest is up to you. Not everyone is suited to DTP, you have to have a degree of flair for design, or at the very least a desire to design, otherwise the frustration builds up as page after page comes out looking like a pair of dingo\’s kidneys.

To desktop publish properly, with complete freedom I mean, you need various things. You need lots of memory – the more the better, but at least 3Mb. You need a hard drive because loading fonts, pictures and text from floppies tends to dampen the enthusiasm for design.

And you need good software – which Is what this article is all about. The answer is to test the water first. Buy a budget DTP package that works almost exactly the same as a professional one. There\’s only one choice, PageSetter II. In fact that version 1. It\’s nothing like it. It\’s actually a black-and-white version of an earlier incarnation of Professional Page. It supports the Compugraphic font format, and looks and operates almost exactly the same as Professional Page 1.

And although various advanced features are missing, PageSetter II can actually do a few things that even Professional Page 3 can\’t. So if you are a beginner and are thinking about getting into desktop publishing, there is no better place to start than PageSetter II.

Professional Page has moved on to version 3. It\’s time to take stock and look at ail three as they stand today. WORDS Publishing is all about getting a message across to whoever is reading your publication, so the PageStream supports Adobe Type 1 fonts as well as its own outline font format and Compugraphic fonts features of a DTP package relevant to putting words on the page are arguably the most important. On top of these. Professional Page comes with its own \’article editor\’, called AE, which is basically a version of the TransWrite word processor with the printing features removed.

This hotlink between AE and Professional Page works well and means that you do not need to buy a separate word processor and spelling checker for preparing and editing text, but Professional Page itself has a simple built-in text editor should you wish to change text directly on the page; it works quite slowly, however. PageStream does not come with a program with which to prepare text, so you will need a word processor if you don\’t want to use PageStream\’s built-in text editor which, like the one in Professional Page, works slowly.

This text editor does include a spelling checker, but it is so slow that I can\’t imagine anyone wanting to use it for anything but checking the spelling of very small sections of text. For more info on this, check out last month\’s issue of Amiga Shopper. Saxon Publisher doesn\’t come with a text preparation program either.

But it has a built-in text editor which, again, operates slowly. Like PageStream, you need to buy another package, only this time there\’s no hotlink available. Professional Page is clearly winning the text importing and editing battle, with PageStream running a close second. Professional Page works with only Compugraphic or Amiga bitmap fonts. The bitmap font support is there to speed up things for PostScript users – they would use the bitmap font on screen because it draws itself faster than the Compugraphic equivalent, but at output time it is the PostScript font of the same name built into the PostScript device, or downloaded to the PostScript file that gets used, which again is quicker than rendering a Compugraphic font.

Now there\’s nothing particularly wrong with the Compugraphic font system except that there are relatively few commercial Compugraphic fonts available, and next to no shareware or PD Compugraphic fonts. Professional Page is supplied with seven Compugraphic fonts, and Amiga bitmap fonts of the \’classic 35\’ found inside PostScript devices. Because printer output is handled by the SaxonScript Professional PostScript interpreter, which comes as part of the Saxon Publisher package, all of these fonts can be output to Amiga Preferences printers any printer for which there is a Preferences printer driver as well as PostScript devices.

On top of this, Saxon Publisher is able to use any Adobe Type 1 font, and a utility can convert the lower quality Adobe Type 3 fonts into the higher quality Adobe Type 1 format. Saxon Publisher produces a screen font \’on the fly\’ and does not require Adobe Binary Font \’ABF\’ files, which are bitmapped representations of the fonts for screen display purposes only.

PageStream has its own format of outline font, plus it supports Compugraphic and Adobe Type 1 fonts. It comes with 10 Compugraphic fonts and eight Soft- Logik outline fonts. Fonts-wise, then, we have a mixed bag. Saxon Publisher is probably leading, having the most flexible system, although it doesn\’t currently support the Compugraphic format I\’m told that version 2 will.

It Saxon Publisher\’s font system is probably the best of the lot. The ones in this list are provided with the package, plus It will Import any PostScript font you throw at it certainly comes with the greatest number of fonts. Thanks to the new FontManager program that comes with Professional Page 3. PageStream actually comes with more fonts, so it\’s probably got its nose in second place.

One aspect of outline fonts I haven\’t discussed yet is the time it takes to draw them on the screen. In the past PageStream was extremely tardy in this area, particularly with Compugraphic fonts, but version 2.

Professional Page 3. But Saxon Publisher 1. The answer is academic because Saxon Publisher is faster than both, although it should be kept in mind that Professional Page\’s Interruptible Refresh feature means that you don\’t have to wait for the whole screen to refresh in order to carry on working. It is important that, when you have a complete change of mind, the DTP program enables you to change things quickly. Otherwise it would mean starting from scratch and typesetting the whole thing again.

That\’s what style tags are for. For instance if I\’ve got 30 chapter headings in mm m my document, all set in Times-Bold 16pt, picked out in red and left justified, and let\’s say I decide to change them to Times-Boldltalic 18pt, turn them blue and right justify them, then it\’s going to take ages to do each of them one at -— a time. With a style tag set up for chapter headings I would simply alter the relevant attributes in a style tags requester, and then every bit of text \”With the Pantone colour system, you get a reference book to select exact colours,\” matter how small the difference, before you can put that piece of text on to the page.

PageStream and Professional Page also enable you to save and load style tags. Of the three style systems, Saxon Publisher\’s is by far the most comprehensive, including details of \”things like outline, fill and drop shadow colour, plus \’texture\’, which is a special type of fill pattern.

Its Type Style and associated Texture Definition requesters contain a plethora of features, and it only falls down on tab positions, which can be only evenly-spaced – every half-inch for nstance.

Professional Page\’s style tag system is just a whisker behind Saxon\’s, with the added benefit that separate Paragraph Tags can be set up and included as part of a Style Tag. I don\’t trust PageStream\’s style tags. I\’ve had so many crashes and strange things happen while using them that I can\’t help but wonder if Probably the best thing about Saxon Publisher is its text style tags system.

Each style can have five slight variations below the words \’Font to Edit\’ , and note that individual styles can be flagged to be greeked or not in the document that had that tag applied to it would automatically change to the new requirements. All three packages support style tags.

PageStream and Professional Page let you set text the hard way, without style tags, if that\’s what you want, but Saxon Publisher insists that every single piece of text you have in the document has an associated style tag.

This isn\’t necessarily a bad thing, it forces a \’structured\’ approach to your typesetting, but it also means you have to go through the style set-up process first, for every section of text that is set in a different style, no Like Saxon Publisher\’s style tags, the Texture Definition feature is excellent, allowing a separate colour and line weight for outlined text, and the ability to fill text with special \’bitmapped\’ textures, which are things like radial and gradient this part of PageStream is fully working.

In any case the system is the worst of the three, although adequate. Lastly in this section about Words, a bit about colour. Unless you\’ve used a PC for graphics work you won\’t really understand how important this is. I spoke to a guy the other day who is writing a book on PC graphics file formats and conversion utilities; after just a couple of weeks work he\’d unearthed about 80 different formats.

I\’m telling you this so you understand SEE Fills and colours.. While this involves the cost of a separate printing plate for each Pantone colour used, it does mean that you get exactly the colour you ask for.

However for the most part you should find CMYK plenty good enough for the majority of colour work, and all three packages support the selection of colours using this system adequately. PageStream\’s graphics formats support is impressive. Anything you import into PageStream is handled by a support program called a \’driver\’, so in order to recognise a new format of file all that needs to be written is a driver for it.

OK, it\’s a cliche, but before it became a cliche it was a fact. Now, we are lucky on the Amiga There\’s no space in this article to explain what these names and letters mean, it\’s enough to know that they are popular graphics formats on the PC, Mac and Atari ST. You should also understand that while graphics in these formats can be imported into PageStream and displayed on the screen, you cannot alter them in any way.

But there is one type of graphic that can be edited after importing, a structured drawing. And while \’ungrouping\’ and editing such graphics in PageStream gives you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants feeling, it\’s an impressive feature. The GEM Metafile structured drawing format is also supported, not sure if you can edit these though as I haven\’t been able to find a GEM drawing to test.

You don\’t need me to tell you that this is an impressive list of graphics formats. But there\’s a problem with the bitmaps – memory. PageStream insists on importing and storing the whole of the bitmap in memory, and if you use the same graphic more than once, it loads it and stores it in memory more than once. So what? You see, even a smallish bit scan at dots per inch takes up about 2Mb or 3Mb of disk space.

But this is in a compressed format, de-compressed it can double in size, or more. So for PageStream to import such a graphic it requires enough memory, after the graphic has de- compressed, to store it, and then a bit more to display a black-and-white representation on-screen. With Mb of memory you\’ve got no chance, with 9Mb you might get away with one bit picture and a bit of text.

There\’s a less memory-hungry way to do it – read the picture in a little bit at a time, and as you do so create say a four-colour version of it in memory for screen display purposes, but leave the picture itself on disk. After all, the desktop publishing program only needs the real colour information at printing time, at which point it can read it from disk.

There are further advantages to this method which affect the speed at which you can operate during the \”If you want to use bit IFF ILBMs, you\’ve got no chance unless you\’ve got a seriously expanded Amiga,\” page design process.

This \’leave it on the disk\’ technique is the one Professional Page employs and means that dozens of large bit pictures can be included in a single document without having to own a 64Mb expansion board. I have 7Mb in my B and have managed 20 bit pictures easily. This means you need Art Department Professional, which is arguably the most impressive piece of software ever written for the Amiga. It\’s much, much more than a \’graphics format converter\’, and is a perfect DTP companion to Professional Page.

But it costs money, of course, and you need at least 4Mb of memory in order to start getting the best out of it. Although these can be re- scaled, they cannot be edited; for that you\’ll need Professional Draw or Aegis Draw. When Professional Draw 3 is released there will be a hotlink between it and Professional Page, which will in effect add a complete complement of structured drawing tools to Professional Page\’s repertoire at the touch of a button, in the same way that the hotlink to the Article Editor gives Professional Page a full set of word processing features.

This is something Gold Disk needs to work on. I\’ve left Saxon Publisher m last because it\’s almost a carbon copy of Professional Page with respect to the way it handles graphics.

Like Professional Page, Saxon Publisher leaves the actual bitmap file on disk and creates a quick four- colour representation for screen display purposes. This enables you, for example, to steal, sorry, borrow graphics from somebody else\’s PostScript files, including those that include bit pictures.

Dunnalf take a longtime though. What one designer thinks is an absolute necessity, other designers will shrug their shoulders at, while there are features some designers use all the time which others have never heard of. It\’s impossible in an article of this size to describe and discuss the design features of all three packages, so instead I\’m going to concentrate on the bad points, the quirks of each package that will restrict the flow of the old creative juices.

The concept behind designing pages is simple – you draw some boxes on the page, you put some text or pictures into those boxes, then you jiggle them around a bit. And that, basically, is how all three packages work. It\’s the \’jiggling around\’ which often thwarts newcomers to DTP, they expect the program to do it for them.

And to a certain extent the program can do it for you. For instance if you want your text to be in three snaking columns newspaper style of equal width, with the same space or \’gutter\’ between them, then you shouldn\’t have to calculate the widths and positions, draw and position the columns one by one, you should be able to tell the program the width of the page, the number of \”PageStream gives you the gun, it\’s up to you whether you pull the trigger\” columns you want, the width of the gutters, and let the program draw them for you.

This was the first thing that struck me about Saxon Publisher, although it can create automatic column \’guides\’ on a page, you have to draw the real boxes yourself, over the top of these dotted lines. Then I spent half a day reading the manual and playing with the program trying to find out how to group a number of boxes together in order to move them so that their overall position changed on the page but their positions relative to each other remained the same.

What a waste of half a day that was. Saxon Publisher cannot group boxes together. Neither can it link boxes automatically. I mean, say your document is a manual spreading over 20 pages, each with three columns of text on it – 60 columns in all. Saxon Publisher insists that you click on each box in the \’chain\’ one at a time in order to make the text flow into it from the previous column. The three features mentioned above, I consider to be part of the basic requirements of any DTP package.

Saxon Publisher has some extremely advanced design features – like the ability to draw boxes of any shape and fill them with text or pictures, and like its \”textures\’ that provide easy ways to achieve radial and gradient fills – but I\’m not sure how Saxon Industries can expect us to take Saxon Publisher seriously when it lacks basic design requirements.

The way it treats rotated boxes is confusing. For example, import a picture into a box and give the box a frame. Now rotate the box, and it is the contents which gets rotated, leaving the frame upright. If you want a rotated frame around your rotated graphic you\’ll have to draw and position it by hand, an impossible task to do accurately given the limitations of screen display resolution.

My pet hate is the system it uses for placing text and pictures on the page. After importing a file Saxon Publisher puts its filename into a list in the toolbox, after have to stick to giving your text and picture files a maximum filename of 10 characters. I can\’t abide software which imposes working conditions. Saxon Publisher certainly gives the design freedom we require, it\’s fast, and it\’s stable when asked to do a big job.

But despite the \’advanced\’ features it proclaims, it lacks real power. Soloct Gonlo A ». But it only recognises and displays the first 10 characters of the filename. So if you\’ve got two files called \’Great- LongNamel. Txt\’ and \’GreatLong- Name2. As if that\’s not bad enough, if your filenames are something like \’txt. Which is which? There is no way of telling without putting the file into a box on the page and having a look.


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