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Undercolor/850103/Reviews

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UnderColor, Volume 1, Number 3, January 11, 1985

  • Title: Reviews
  • Author: empty
  • Synopsis: empty
  • Page Scans: Link

Article

PRODUCT

64K Disk Utilities

Spectrum Projects

P.O. 21272

Woodhaven, NY 11412

64K

$21.95 disk

By Mark Haverstock

Spectrum Project’s 64K Disk Utilities consists of three separate utility programs for the 64K Disk Color Computer: a 40K memory program, software print spooler, and ROMpak to disk converter. It's a fine example of a program that will let you see some of the capabilities of a 64K machine.

"40K," the first of the programs, lets you obtain 8K more RAM for Basic or assembly programming. This is accomplished by relocating the Extended Basic ROM from $8000 to $D800. Once 40K is executed, PRINT MEM displays 31015. Only 31015? Remember that 2K of disk space and four pages of memory for graphics are still reserved. Interestingly enough, the PCLEAR1 command will release those graphic pages, providing even more memory, but will register as -29913. (Note that numbers above 32767 are displayed as negative numbers.) Beside freeing more memory, it lets you modify Basic ROMs, which now reside in RAM. Two notes of caution apply to this program: Reset will wipe out any program in memory. Also, "40K" and "SPOOL64" may not be used at the same time. Any Color Computer user can now access some of that extra memory in a 64K machine without purchasing exotic DOS systems like OS-9.

"ROMpak to Disk Converter" is potentially the most appealing program in the package. Disk users can use most of their old ROMpaks without having to plug and unplug the disk controller by relocating the ROMpak programs to disk.

First the ROM is saved to cassette. This procedure involves covering pin 7 of the ROMpak to prevent it from auto·starting. The cartridge is then inserted into the machine and CSAVEM is executed. Afterwards, ROMcrack is run and the tape is read and relocated to disk. Once on disk, programs may be executed as any other assembly language program. Before trying this procedure, run ROMcrack. An excellent graphics display shows where pin 7 is located to prevent confusion.

Note that all ROMpaks will not relocate to disk using ROMcrack. Some, such as "Megabug" and "Stellar Lifeline," have routines which do not relocate well in different memory locations. Others, such as "Galactic Attack" and "Math Bingo,"

transfer to disk without problems.

"Software Disk Spooler" lets the upper 32K of memory act as a RAM buffer to feed your printer. lf you’ve ever waited for a printer to finish several pages of text, you'll appreciate what the spooler can do. With SPOOL64 the computer is free for other tasks while the printer buzzes merrily on its way.

Upon running the program, a main menu allows selection of six different bauds, from a slow 300 to a speedy 9600 baud.

Documentation for the three programs was minimal, consisting of two typewritten pages. "ROMcrack" and "SpooIer" need clearer and more specific directions, as some are confusing. An example from ROMcrack: "Next, turn off your computer and remove a cartridge while the computer

is on!"

Aside from the documentation, "64K Disk Utilities" is well-written and performs as advertised. It would be a useful addition for most Color Computer software libraries. (end)

Review: Super Deluxe Keyboard

By Jeffrey S. Parker

Super Deluxe Keyboard

Radio Shack Cat. No. 26-3016

Installation: $25.00

Keyboard: $39.95

Available: Radio Shack nationwide,

or

Computer Plus

450 King St.

Littleton, MA 01460

617-486-3193

Price: $44.95

Caution! The catalog numbers for the low-profile keyboard end the new super deluxe keyboard are identical! Be sure to specify new full size keyboard when ordering!

The last bastion in keyboards has finally been breached by Radio Shack! After all those years, and all those keyboards, we have finally achieved a full-sized keyboard. The Super Deluxe keyboard is standard equipment on the new 64K Color Computer ll. It is a full size, full travel keyboard, with the letters printed on the upper left corner of the keys, similar to the IBM format. The colors match the case, with the cursor, shift, clear and return keys in pure white. The Break key is still red.

l thought the ultimate had been reached when the low profile board came out, but one brief session at the Super Deluxe keyboard reveals the difference. The keys are high quality, with a good spring tension, and sensitive enough to register a light touch. The key tension is especially ideal for high speed touch-typing.

The Super Deluxe keyboard is sold only as stock equipment on the 64K Color Computer ll at present, but will be available as an upgrade through Radio Shack dealers. Unfortunately, Radio Shack must do the installation, and they charge accordingly.

There are several third party vendors from whom the board can be purchased, if one is willing and able to perform the installation. Computer Plus, in Littleton, MA, is one place that has them in stock. They are retailing the keyboard for $44.95, plus tax, and of course, shipping and handling.

If you have an F board or later version, the installation is extremely easy (remember to save your current keyboard if there’s nothing wrong with it). If you have owned your computer for less than 90 days, opening it will void the warranty, so either wait for Radio Shack, or wait for 90 days. According to the New England Region supplier, Radio Shack centers will be carrying the new keyboards in a matter of a few weeks. Among other things, the Super Deluxe keyboard could make an excellent Christmas present! (end)

PRODUCT

Flexnet BBS

Oklahoma City, OK

(405)722-6809

By Bob Rosen

The Flexnet BBS is an unusual bulletin board system; it more resembles an operating system than a traditional BBS system. It is an adaptation of the Flex operating system from Technical Systems Consultants. The experienced user of Flex can go right to work on this BBS as though he had been on it for awhile; those unfamiliar with Flex may need a little time to get used to the system, but think of the opportunity to learn how this great operating system works!

I was introduced to Flex through my purchase of

a TRS-80 Color Computer and was a little taken aback with the price of Flex programs. Most Color owners selected their computer for one reason: they didn't have a lot of money to spend. Well, you get what you pay for—especially with the limited operating system in the Color Computer.

The Flexnet BBS is a great service to Color owners in two ways. First, it allows the potential purchaser of one of the fine Flex implementations to try a Flex-like system before buying a copy. Second, there are lots of Flex utilities available on Flexnet, written by other Flexnet users. This is a great way to enhance your Flex library and learn a heck of a lot at minimum expense. The programs are in both source and object form. There are communications programs you can download in source form and assemble that will let you download machine code files. You would have to purchase a copy of Flex and an assembler if you wanted to use some of the Flex utilities, but there are also a lot of free download programs on the system that will run under RS Disk Basic. Another nice feature is that there are many knowledgeable people on the board who know a lot about Flex and the 6809 in general. If you post a technical question on the BBS, there is a good chance it will be answered.

When you check into the board, there is a short greeting message and then the prompt FLEXNET. l thought a lot of being able to check into a BBS without having to give my name; this is the first I’ve ever seen. When you get the prompt, it's just like + + + in Flex; you give it a Flex command, and it’s off and running. An example would be CAT; this would give you a catalog of the disk files. DIR gave me a more expanded directory of what was on the disk, and DIR 1 gave me a further directory of what was probably on another disk drive.

An interesting directory-type program was called FILES CMD; it was very handy because you can get a directory of files that have specific characteristics. For instance, if you only want a directory of files starting with "A," type FILES A; or if you want files with just the text, just type FILES TXT. To list a file that might be of interest, one would type LIST FILENAME EXT. The command LISTNEW[MM DD YY] will list all the files dated on or after the date you specify. This will let you look at all the files you want to without typing in each file name.

If you check into Flexnet and forget what to do, you can just type HELP and the system will walk you through it. The same goes for any command you may have a question about. For example, if you want more information about the command file SEND CMD, just type HELP SEND and the system will give you instructions on using the system’s file transfer

capability.

You can leave a program, message, or any other text-type file on the board using the Flex command BUILD FILENAME. Again, if you are not familiar with Flex, just type HELP BUILD.

If you want to know more, check into this very interesting BBS system. There are some pretty dull and poorly run BBS’s in the country, but this is not one of them. My hat’s off to Roger Walton and Bill Holland. (end)

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