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______________________________________ |///ZMAG|SYNDICATE ZMAGAZINE ISSUE #93 |//ZMAG/|February 15, 1988 |/ZMAG//|_____________________________ |ZMAG///|Publisher/Editor: Ron Kovacs |_______|_____________________________ |Asst Pb|Ken

Kirchner, Tony Santos, |_______|_____________________________ |Hqts |XBN 617-770-0026 |RegHdqt|Stairway/Heaven 216-733-8444 |RegHdqt|StarBase I 201-938-6906 |_______|_____________________________ |INDEX93|Call: Lions Den 312-690-3724 |_______|_____________________________ |..<1>..|Commentary [Ron Kovacs] |..<2>..|ST Transformer [ D Mihocka] |..<3>..|Oasis Survey Results |..<4>..|Daisy Dot II Review |..<5>..|AtariFest Update from CLAUG |..<6>..|Installing I/O Master |..<7>..|BBS Watch [ JACG BBS ] |..<8>..|File Compression [ M Albert ] |_______|_____________________________ |..<1>..|Commentary and Update |_______|_____________________________ by Ron Kovacs, Editor Thanks for reading another edition of Zmag. This is our 93rd issue and 110th publication. The other issues were special reports or misc information. Since we are still publishing without a BBS system we can call our own, I have noticed a few people getting nervous and worried about where they are going to get ZMAG from. Please let me do my best to assure you that ZMag will continue to publish on a weekly basis. I have no plans on giving up the ship yet and if I should desire to quit, I will ask someone to take it over. I list a few BBS systems at the top of each issue. If you have a need to get in touch with me, call the above systems first! If you are looking for past issues, they are available on Genie and CompuServe, XBN BBS, and a number of others. Until the Syndicate BBS returns, I must ask that everyone please be patient. I am sorry for any problems this causes you, but I am doing the best I can at the present time. I am currently deciding which of the 300 systems on my list are going and

willing to become Regional Hdqts for the magazines. I am looking for atleast one system from each area code. On to other news... The Baby is due TODAY 2-15-88 and still no action. It looks like this week? <grin>. The Syndicate BBS looks like a 3-1-88 re-debut. Details forthcoming. Read the March 1988 issue of Antic for an interesting (short) article on GEnie and the RT sysops. ST-Report magazine continues to gain popularity each week. You can find them in the GEnie ST RT and on CIS in the Atari16 Data Library 8. STR is also exclusivly part of the ST X-Press diskmate. ST-Report is another weekly online magazine published by SPC (us). And a thank you to Carlos H. for selling us Basic XE. Without his assistance and willingness to sell his cartridge, we might have decided other things about the BBS. Also, to Terry in ST.Louis for supplying us the PD and modified version of Forem XE. (didnt want to print last names without permission). Basic Programming Series continues next with Part 7. Call: CoaSTline BBS 201-929-9351 ______________________________________ |..<2>..|ST Transformer Update |_______|_____________________________ by Darek Mihocka February 7, 1988 Information about ST Xformer II: Since the release of the Xformer in October, I have mainly heard only two things from people: make it run in monochrome, and make it faster. The monochrome part was easy, and now with Omni Res, it is even better. The speed issue was a bit harder to address. The dispatch algorithm used could have been sped up slightly, by getting rid of common code and thus saving some jumps and branches. But to get a really major speed increase, I started writing a new emulator from scratch

and came up with some voodoo that allowed me to write an emulator that is TWICE AS FAST as the emulator now available. Thanks go to David Small, Charles Smeton, and Jan Gray for providing some of the speed up ideas. Here at a glance are some of the features of ST Xformer II: - twice as fast, runs at about 40% the speed of a 6502 - a GEM based non-cryptic user interface that allows you to re-configure the emulator with the menu bar. No more deleting and renaming of files. - 4 modes: generic 6502, Atari 800, Apple ][, and C-64 emulation (I should have provided a DEGAS file containing a screen shot showing Commodore 64 BASIC in action on the emulator, but that would probably make most people delete this file right away!) - online documentation (i.e. from the menu bar) - player missle graphics and sprites, greatly increasing compatibility - a hardcopy of detailed documentation and source code will be available for a small fee. (Hey, I gotta eat too!) - phone support will be provided if you really get stuck The program will be available on July 1, 1988, and will be shareware. That means it'll be free and available on most BBSs and information services at that time. The program will soon go out to a few beta testers who will put it through the wringer. A preview version will be made available to magazines and user groups on May 1, 1988. If you are a user group executive and are interested in getting the preview version to demo to your user group, send a recent copy of your newsletter, your name and phone number, and $5 (to cover the cost of a disk, a mailer, and postage) to me:

Darek Mihocka 310-D Bluevale St. N. Waterloo, Ontario N2J 4G3 CANADA and I'll give you a call when the disk is about to go out (in late April or early May). Anyone will last minute requests and suggestions for the emulator can drop me mail, email, or call the -support line- (really just my modem line, he he, so if you call and get a modem carrier, hang up). Of course, after the preview gets out, I'll definately be taking last minute suggestions and bug reports before letting the cement dry. To contact me by email, you'll need an account on one of the information services listed below, and then send the email to the appropriate ID: BIX: darekm Compuserve: 73657,2714 DELPHI: DAREKM GEnie: DAREKM The ST Xformer support line is: (519)-747-0386 On the FOREM FNET network, send email to Gilligan's Island BBS (node #118). Hopefully it'll find a path through. That's all! Enjoy ST Xformer 1.2 and please be patient about getting ST Xformer II. It will be worth your wait. ______________________________________ |..<3>..|Oasis Survey Results |_______|_____________________________ Compiled by Ron Kovacs The following survey results were compiled from a few Oasis Systems around the country. These results were added together and added to the final results listed here. OASIS BBS SURVEY Welcome to the BBS Software Survey. This Survey covers four Atari 8-Bit

BBs software programs. If you are not familiar with the programs at all, please do not take the survey. If you think you might be informed enough, try the survey, but if you find then, that you are not aquainted with the programs being considered, please do NOT save your answers at the end of the survey. The above requests are directed primarily to non-Atari users, and new users. We would like the survey results to be as fair as possible. You do NOT have to know something about all the programs, but if you do not know anything about any of them, then your answers would be unfair. Thank you for your consideration in this matter. The survey considers that a BBS is a place where people MEET to exchange INFORMATION. People meet on the message bases, and exchange information there, and in the download area. Therefore, the survey asks about these two functions. ON WITH THE SURVEY !! |__________________________| | OASIS BBS SURVEY PROGRAM | |__________________________| | 8 - BIT BBS SOFTWARE | | SURVEY by G. Stocks | |______________________| |________________| |[0] Quit To BBS | |[1] Take Survey | |[2] List Takers | |[3] See Results | |________________| > Denotes highest vote getter | Question Number 1 | Choose Your Favorite Atari 8 Bit BBS. 0] 1] 2] >3] 4] 5] No Answer Carina 1.0 BBS Express! Oasis Nite Lite Another Atari 8 Bit BBS

[#1] 42 [#2] 55 [#3] 73 [#4] 32 [#5] 21 | Question Number 2 | The BBS That Is Best At Overall Message Base Functions. 0] 1] >2] 3] 4] Oasis Nite Lite BBS Express! No Answer Carina 1.0

[#0] 36 [#1] 26 [#2] 95 [#3] 31 [#4] 35 The BBS That Is Best At Overall File Transfer Functions. 0] 1] 2] >3] 4] Carina 1.0 No Answer BBS Express! Oasis Nite Lite

[#0] 10 [#2] 22 [#3] 191 | Question Number 4 | The BBS That Has The Best Message Editing Functions While Posting Messages. 0] 1] 2] >3] 4] Nite Lite Carina 1.0 Oasis BBS Express! No Answer

[#0] 22 [#1] 21 [#2] 67 [#3] 104 [#4] 09 | Question Number 5 | The BBS That Has The Best Message Base Reading Functions. 0] 1] >2] 3] 4] BBS Express! No Answer Oasis Carina 1.0 Nite Lite

[#0] 99 [#2] 103 [#3] 8 [#4] 13

| Question Number 6 | The BBS That Has The Best Download Directory, Or Listing Of Download Files. 0] >1] 2] 3] 4] Nite Lite Oasis No Answer BBS Express! Carina 1.0

[#1] 155 [#2] 22 [#3] 30 [#4] 17 | Question Number 7 | The BBS That Has The Best Method Of Choosing A File To Download 0] >1] 2] 3] 4] BBS Express! Oasis Carina 1.0 Nite Lite No Answer

[#0] 14 [#1] 187 [#2] 11 [#3] 11 | Question Number 8 | The BBS That Has The Best Protocol Options For Downloads 0] 1] 2] 3] >4] No Answer Carina 1.0 BBS Express! Nite Lite Oasis

[#1] 14 [#2] 12 [#3] 10 [#4] 187 | Question Number 9 | The BBS That Has The Best Library Facilities. >0] 1] 2] 3] 4] Oasis Nite Lite BBS Express! Carina 1.0 No Answer

[#0] 124 [#2] 87 [#3] 06 [#4] 06 | Question Number 10 |

The BBS That Has The Best Games 0] 1] 2] 3] >4] No Answer Nite Lite Oasis BBS Express! Carina 1.0

[#1] 11 [#2] 38 [#3] 06 [#4] 169 | Question Number 11 | The BBS That Provides The Best Board Members Information. 0] 1] 2] 3] >4] BBS Express! No Answer Carina 1.0 Nite Lite Oasis

[#1] 28 [#4] 195 | Question Number 12 | The BBS With The Best E-Mail Message System. >0] 1] 2] 3] 4] Oasis Carina 1.0 No Answer Nite Lite BBS Express!

[#0] 108 [#1] 30 [#3] 08 [#4] 77 | Question Number 13 | Choose The BBS Function That Nite Lite BBS Performs The Best. >0] 1] 2] 3] 4] No Answer Message Base Reading Listing Download Files Posting Messages Choosing Download Files

[#0] 74 [#1] 46 [#2] 42 [#3] 39 [#4] 22 | Question Number 14 | Choose The BBS Function That Oasis BBS Performs The Best. 0] Posting Messages 1] No Answer

>2] Choosing Download Files 3] Listing Download Files 4] Message Base Reading [#0] 23 [#1] 29 [#2] 79 [#3] 28 [#4] 64 | Question Number 15 | Choose The BBS Function That BBS Express! Performs The Best. >0] 1] 2] 3] 4] Message Base Reading Choosing Download Files Listing Download Files Posting Messages No Answer

[#0] 59 [#1] 29 [#2] 38 [#3] 55 [#4] 42 | Question Number 16 | Choose The BBS Function That Carina 1.0 Performs The Best. 0] 1] 2] >3] 4] Listing Download Files Posting Messages Choosing Download Files No Answer Message Base Reading

[#0] 33 [#1] 31 [#2] 34 [#3] 68 [#4] 57 | Question Number 17 | Choose The BBS Function That BBS Express! Needs To Improve. 0] 1] 2] >3] 4] Posting Messages Reading Messages Listing Downloads Choosing Downloads No Answer

[#0] 33 [#1] 38 [#2] 35 [#3] 79 [#4] 38 | Question Number 18 | Choose The BBS Functon That Carina 1.0 BBS Needs To Improve. 0] Choosing Downloads 1] Reading Messages

2] Posting Messages 3] Listing Downloads >4] No Answer [#0] 26 [#1] 49 [#2] 14 [#3] 16 [#4] 118 | Question Number 19 | Choose The BBS Function That Oasis BBS Needs To Improve. 0] 1] >2] 3] 4] Listing Downloads No Answer Posting Messages Reading Messages Choosing Downloads

[#0] 19 [#1] 35 [#2] 116 [#3] 38 [#4] 15 | Question Number 20 | Choose The BBS Function That Nitelite BBS Needs To Improve. 0] 1] >2] 3] 4] Reading Messages Listing Downloads No Answer Choosing Downloads Posting Messages

[#0] 40 [#1] 34 [#2] 110 [#3] 21 [#4] 18 | Question Number 21 | In Telecommunications On Atari 8 Bit Boards, you are ... >0] 1] 2] 3] 4] 5] A SysOp A Co-SysOp A User An Ex-SysOp An Ex-Co-SysOp No Answer

[#0] 137 [#1] 18 [#2] 53 [#3] 15 | Question Number 22 | If You Are Now A SysOp, Or Co-SysOp, Choose The BBS Program That You Run. 0] Nite Lite 1] BBS Express!

>2] 3] 4] 5] 6] 7] 8]

Oasis Carina 1.0 Another Atari 8-Bit BBS An Atari ST BBS A Non-Atari BBS I Am Not A SySop No Answer

[#0] 12 [#1] 42 [#2] 115 [#3] 31 [#4] 03 [#5] 10 [#6] 01 [#7] 09 | Question Number 23 | Of All The 8-Bit Atari Boards In Your State, Choose The BBS That Is Run The Most. 0] 1] >2] 3] 4] 5] Carina 1.0 No Answer BBS Express! Oasis Nite Lite Another Atari 8 Bit BBS

[#0) 32 [#1] 42 [#2] 103 [#3] 42 [#4] 06 [#5] 04 Call: Wonderful World 808-423-3140 ______________________________________ |..<4>..|Daisy Dot II Review |_______|_____________________________ by Dr. Warren Lieuallen Many of you are already familiar with the Daisy Dot Near Letter Quality Emulation program. This public domain program has appeared on most users' groups' disks over the past six months, and has received kudos from everyone who has seen it. In short, this program allows any Epsoncompatible or Star printers to achieve -near letter quality- text printing, in one of several different, userdefinable fonts. While most of the newer dot matrix printers come with a built-in NLQ font, this program frees you from its limitations of spacing and appearance. Daisy Dot fonts are proportionally spaced (the -i's- are skinny, and the -M's- are wide), and the characters can take any form and shape you desire. A font editor was supplied with the program, along with five

pre-defined fonts. There are prices to pay for all this flexibility, of course. Daisy Dot requires ASCII files, already preformatted and ready to dump to the printer (most word processors are able to provide these ASCII files easily). And because Daisy Dot actually prints the file as graphic data, the printing process is rather slow (although fairly comparable to the speed of most printers' NLQ modes). These are minor limitations, however, and are more than offset by the advantages allowed by this professional quality program. Nice though it is, there have been suggestions for improvements and modifications. One user went so far as to write his own program (Which he unfortunately chose to originally title -Daisy Dot II-. This program has since been renamed -Dot Magic-.), incorporating a few additional features. For the ultimate in ease of use, and flexibility, though, the definitive Daisy Dot II program is now the obvious choice. Roy has really outdone himself this time. While Daisy Dot was good, Daisy Dot II is truly fantastic. I honestly cannot give this program (and the programmer) enough praise! It has been totally re-written in C (the original was in compiled Turbo BASIC), the user interface has been upgraded, and many new commands have been added. Roy remains available on CompuServe and GEnie, and has always been very helpful. One of Daisy Dot II's most unusual features is its documentation. Included on the disk is a set of files which contain all the documentation, in a format ready for Daisy Dot II to print. This manual, which is 24 pages long, is one of the best I have ever seen, for any product. It includes an introduction to the Daisy Dot II system (which consists of the main printing program, the new font editor, a font utilities package, and a graphics support program), examples of the 14 fonts provided, instuctions on preparing the ASCII file with most popular word processors, and clear and

concise examples of all of Daisy Dot II's commands. These examples include both the precise syntax to include in your file, as well as a print-out of the resulting output. After a unique -question and answer- section, the manual concludes with a one page -Quick Reference Guide-. As an example of the flexibility of Daisy Dot II, in my own set-up, I have accumulated 21 different fonts, and have designed several myself. I use TextPro as the word processor, running from the SpartaDOS 192K RAMdisk. In this way, I may switch back and forth between Daisy Dot II and TextPro very quickly, and with no disk switching. This system is not only quite convenient, it is also completely public domain! The commands supported by Daisy Dot II include: - the ability to change fonts -on the fly- left or right margin alignment, and right justification - automatic line centering, in any font - double width printing, in any font - underlining of any font - proportional tabs - user selected graphics densities, and character spacing - ability to include graphics in a text file - -chain- multiple files together, to allow -unlimited- text size - AND MORE! All of these commands are accessed from within the text file itself by preceeding them with a backslash character (-\-). The syntax is sensible (most commands are abbreviated by their first letter), and easily mastered. A number of the commands can be combined, providing even more flexibility.

I have had the Daisy Dot II system for more than a month now, and have still not used it to its fullest potential. The flexibility and usefulness of this program rivals any commercial software available, and its uses are limited only by the imagination of the user. I strongly urge you to contact your local users' group to obtain a copy, and to support Mr. Goldman with a small donation for his work. You won't regret it! [ed.: Daisy Dot II and Dot Magic II will be available on the Syndicate BBS in March.] ______________________________________ |..<5>..|Chicago AtariFest Update |_______|_____________________________ Captured from CLAUG BBS Mesg:0003 To:MIKE MILLER From:MARTY CONROY Subj:Huh?... Atari Fest Update: The most recent news we have is that the first site looked at by the committe was the Rosemont Convention Center, on River Road. Close to: C.T.A., Kennedy Expressway, Tollways, and not least O'Hare Airport. If we choose this site, the proposed fest dates will be: 26,27 & 28 Aug 88. That's right folks a three day fair. If we sell thirty booths, the fest is paid for, not counting the ticket sales at the gate....so....we expect this event to loom large as an Atari Fest should. CLAUG is putting up $300.00 as a firm committment toards the event and other groups LCASE, ALIEN, SCAT and others will put up a fair share to set the thing in motion, ie... bank accounts, post office expenses and 24 hour hot line for voice information and updates; also printing costs, because as soon as we set the date and location, we'll be sending advance tickets to every user group in the Atari kingdom. Atari, Sunnyvvale, will also put up 02/11/88 <REPLY>

some seed monies as an investment to insure the success of the event. Any one with any experience in this type of event would be of invaluable service to the user group committee members working on the fest. If you can offer an assist, leave E-Mail and/or a reply to this message base. COMMAND or ?: Call: M.O.U.S.E. BBS 219-674-9288 ______________________________________ |..<6>..|How To Install I/O Master |_______|_____________________________ Computer - Top View [Rear] SIO Port +-------------------------+ooooooo++ | | | ATARI | | | | | | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ +--+| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | || | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ +--+| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | || | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ +--+| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | || | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ +--+| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | || | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ +--+| +----------------------------------+ [Front] Open your computer, and look at the SIO port from the front: +--------------------+ SIO Port, | | Front View | 2 4 6 8 10 12 | | X X | | O O O O O O | | | | | | | | O O O O O O O| | X X | | 1 3 5 7 9 11 13| | | +--------------------+ You will have to solder something to pins 4,8,9, and 11. Now look at the I/O Master chip:

X +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ ++ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ ++ |14 13 12 11 10 9 8 | | | | | -74LS14 | -| | | | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | ++ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ ++ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ X X X X X You will have to solder something to pins 1,2,3,4, and 14. BREAK OFF the other pins of the I/O Master chip with needle nose pliers. Solder a length of wire to pin 14 of the chip, and then use Crazy Glue to glue the chip on top of the plastic shield with surrounds the I/O port. Then, solder lengths of wire to pins 1,2,3, and 4. ** Trim the wire from pin 14 of the chip, and solder it to pin 4 of the SIO port. ** Cut some 14 inch lengths of wire. I use ribbon wire and strip one end. ** Using one wire strip the insulation from about 1/2 inch of the end, and solder the tip to pin 7 of the chip, and the other portion of the same end to pin 8 of the SIO port. The other end of this wire will be soldered to the LEDs. ** Take another wire and solder one end to pin 3 of the chip, and the other end to pin 9 of the SIO port. ** Take another wire and solder one end to pin 1 of the chip, and solder the other end to pin 11 of the SIO port. ** Solder a wire to pin 2 of the chip this leads to an L.E.D. ** Solder a wire to pin 4 of the chip this leads to the other L.E.D. Your computer should now look like

this: To pin 4 O +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ ++ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ ++ |14 13 12 11 10 9 8 | | | | | -| -| | | | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | ++ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ ++ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+ O O O O O | | | >To LED >To pin 8 | | | and LED | | >To pin 9 | | | >To LED | >To pin 11 >To pin 7 To pin 14< |and LED +----+-------+-------+ SIO Port, | | | | Front View | 2 |4 6 8| 10 12 | | >X X< | | O O O O O O | | | | | | | | O O O O O O O| | >X X< | | 1 3 5 7 |9 11|13| | | | | +------------+----+--+ To pin 3< | | To pin 1< ** Now, at this point, a little experimentation is called for. Theoretically, you should be able to tell which of the leads from an LED is the anode and which is the cathode from the length of the wire and from the location of a flat spot on the side of the LED. In practice, the pole sometimes are reversed. So the basic idea is that the cathode of one LED will be soldered to the cathode of the other LED, and the wire from pin 8 of the SIO port will be connected here.

Then, the wires from pins 2 and 4 of the chip will be connected to the other LED pins (--Note: I have found that connecting pin 2 of the chip to the green LED's anode, and connecting pin 4 of the chip to the red LED's anode works fine). Hook your computer up, with the case open and a disk drive connected, but power switch off. Connect the LEDs and turn the power on. If you have connected properly, the green LED should go on when a READ is in progress, and the red LED should light up when a WRITE is in progress (--Note: Neither light will go on while reading or writing to an internal ramdisk [Such as that of an upgraded 800xl, or Xe). When you have the right combination, solder everything together. Then drill holes in your computer cover and install the LEDS using LED mounts or crazy glue. Reassemble your computer and you're all finished. NOTE- while you have you computer apart, it's a good idea to cut the capacitors connected to the SIO port, (the ones below the port, Xe computers only) as they interfere with U.S. Doubled and Happy Enhanced drives. If you're not sure, just skip this. (--Note: I tried running the computer without the capacitors cut, and it worked just fine, so who knows...) [ed. This modification NOT test by ZMagazine staff. Any modifications done will void any warranty and is done at your own risk.] ______________________________________ |..<7>..|BBS Watch (Msgs of Interest) |_______|_____________________________ Captured from JACG BBS Message #31 UDLR Posted February 5th, 1988 at 2:26 AM From:Paul Machiaverna Hard Drives for the Atari ST The Japanese Yen has risen and so has the price of the Atari Hard Drive, the SHD-204. The '204' will now cost you $600! But, their are lower cost alternatives which work just as well,

and better. Third party vendors are releasing hard drives for the ST by the handful. Berkeley seems to offer the best deal going. They will send you a fully assembled 62 MegaByte Hard Drive with a 40 msec seek rate for only $800! This is a faster drive than the Atari 204 and has over three times the storage for only $200 more. For $600, you can get a 40 MegaByte Hard Drive which is the same speed as the 204. Other packages are available. Call 1-(415)-465-6956 for all the information you may need. Ask to speak to Vance or Chris. They are some of the most helpful people you will ever speak to in any company. Message #42 UDR Posted February 6th, 1988 at 1:12 PM From:Tom Shoosmith Know DDD from ADD! The CD market has also created a collectible craze. Import vs. Domestice release, Label vs label (McCartney Capital & CBS), mislabeled CD's (Elton John's labeled Bennie and the Jets being Candle in the Wind), etc. When a CD is released in the US, it's Import version is no longer sold here (in theory anyway). Recently Paul McCartney switched labels making some CD's extinct or close to it. When buying a CD, know the difference between DDD and ADD, avoiding what you may think was recorded on Digital equipment. Digital Audio is a very good magazine for the serious CD'er. Recently I picked up Harry Chapin's Greatest Stories Live. It was released earlier this week and for a live recording the quality transfer from the original is super! ______________________________________ |..<8>..|File Compression Compared |_______|_____________________________ by Marty Albert (GEnie Atari8) This file may be freely distributed so long as this notice remains in the file and there are no changes made to the file.

Copyright 1988 by Marty Albert. As the title implies, this article will discuss several of the file compression, compaction systems that are now available for use on the Atari 8-bit computers. I have limited the scope of this article to only those systems that will work with true double density disks, that is, 256 byte sectors. This reduced the various systems available to three: ARC version 1.2 DiskCom version 3.0 SCOPY version 1.2. I apologize to anyone that has written a system that I did not include. If they will send me a copy of the file(s) needed, I will be happy to include it in the test. The system that I used for the test is the one that I use all the time. It consists of: an 800XL with the 256K RAMboXL upgrade, two 1050 drives with US Doubler chips, an ICD P:R: Connection, a Magnavox Color Monitor 40, a Panasonic 1080i printer, and an Atari SX212 modem. The DOS used was SpartaDOS 3.2d. The RAMdisk was not used. All tests were conducted with both disk reads and writes going to/from a -real- disk. The test disks were formatted with the file SINIT.COM (by Craig Thom) in double density yielding 707 sectors of 256 bytes each. To determine the files sizes, files were copied to the standard SpartaDOS RAMdisk and then the directory was printed out. All times were kept by stop-watch as accurately as possible. There may be errors in the times by as much as +/5 seconds. Note also that the times do not include time needed to deal with the menus, enter filenames, etc.. The times reflect only the time needed for the program itself to do it's job. In selecting the files to test, I tried to choose a variety of file types. Something from as many

different types was needed, while remaining in the realm of what might really be transferred by modem. What I finally settled on was one file each from the types: ATASCI text Graphic 9 picture RLE picture KOALA picture AMS II song file Atari font a binary file a SAVEd BASIC file a Compiled Turbo BASIC file a font for Daisy-Dot This seems to cover all the bases and gave me a hefty disk full of files. The size of the various files can be found in TABLE 1. TABLE 1 FILE TYPE SIZE (in bytes) ====================================== ATASCI text 14224 Graphic 9 picture 7680 RLE picture 18964 KOALA picture 6662 AMS II song 23103 Atari font 1024 Binary file 19712 SAVEd BASIC file 18288 Compiled Turbo BASIC file 18404 Daisy-Dot font 3113 -------------------------------------TOTAL OF FILES 131174 Now, on to the actually testing done! ARC version 1.2 *************** This, the latest version of ARC, has been with us for some time now. It is doubtful if the author, Ralph Walden, will do any further updates. I've heard much about so-and-so is going to rewrite ARC to be bigger, better, faster, and so on, but to date, this simply hasn't happened. I'm sure that everyone is familiar with the common CRC errors that ARC produces on text and text-like files. While not really harmful, it is a very misunderstood annoyance. The versions of ARC for other machines don't do

that, so why does ours? Oh, well. Also, ARC is slow. That may too mild a word for it, but it's all I have. Let's just say that I watched an entire TV show while doing the test and ARC only needed me once. But, on the plus side, ARC is the champ at compression. With an average compression of between 30-40%, and some files as high as 80%, you just can't beat it. ARC also will accept commands from the command line of SpartaDOS. With more and more SpartaDOS users everyday, that may be a big plus as well. For the actual tests results, please see TABLE 2. DISKCOM version 3.0 ******************* This is a nice program from Bob Puff. It has a number of good points, but also a number of bad ones. I've heard of a version 3.2 of this program, but as yet I've not been able to find it. I've not even heard of version 3.1. The biggest good point for DiskCom is it's menu system. Very user friendly. I found it easy to understand and to use. Another good point is that it can use ALL the memory of my 256K machine to reduce the number of passes needed to process the disk. I like that. After all, I paid for 256K, so why shouldn't I be able to use it? Now, a few bad points. I tried to run DiskCom 3.0 twelve times before it finally worked on the thirteenth. It would create the file just fine and write it the disk, but when I tried to recover it, I was told by the program that there were -bad bytes- in the file and to re-download it or use a file called DISKFIX2 on it. I tried 8 different disks in the hopes that it was a bad sector on the disk, but no luck. I re-copied my source files to a new disk in hopes that it was bad, but again, no change. Then finally, on Lucky 13, it worked. I don't know why or how. It just so happened that on trial eleven, I went back to the original source disk (that, by the way, ARC and SCOPY both read just

fine) and a new destination disk, and pooph! It worked! It recovered the files without a catch then. I have no explanation for this happening, but happen it did. I just hope that before the next version comes, Bob has a chance to see this. Again, please see TABLE 2 for the test results. SCOPY version 1.2 ***************** SCOPY is, for those who don't know, available from ICD as one of the files on the SpartaDOS Construction Set disks. It is a copyrighted file. I like SpartaDOS. In fact, it's all that I use, except when I have to use something else. I'm not impressed with SCOPY that much, though. SCOPY is fast. In fact, SCOPY was faster than a straight disk to disk file copy! But, it's a bit f a pain in the neck to use. It is command line driven, and trying to figure out the commands is like playing Russian Roulette. The command structure looks like this: D1:SCOPY D1: D2:TEST.SCP Not too bad, eh? Wait til you add in the US Doubled drives and the RAMdisk! Then it mutates to: D1:SCOPY D1: /U D8:TEST.SCP /R Well, enough said about that. It gets messy, but, like I said, it's fast! It also is the only one of the three programs that actually increased the size of the compacted file to more than the sum of the individual files. I don't like that either. Once more I refer you to TABLE 2 for the test results. TABLE 2 FILE CT RT SIZE % CHANGE ====================================== file 2:10 ---- 131174 --copy ARC 14:57 16:34 90848 -30.74%

DiskCom 4:38 SCOPY 1:44

3:36 121139 1:38 136408

-7.65% +3.99%

In the above table: CT = time to create compacted file RT = time to recover compacted file SIZE = the size of the compacted file % CHANGE = the percent of change from the sum of the individual files. The first item listed as -file copyis a simple disk to disk file copy via the SpartaDOS command COPY D1:*.* D2:*.* So, as you can see from the results, SCOPY is far and way the fastest with ARC the slowest. ARC does the best compression while SCOPY does none, and in fact adds to the size. DiskCom did well in both speed and compression, but it was hard to get going with it. ARC does have the advantage of being 100% compatible with ARC for the ST, the IBM, and the MAC. That is not important unless you want to unARC those files. Many people ask why you want to since you can't run them on your Atari. Well, the reason is simple...RLE pictures and text files are universal. They will run on ANY machine, once you recover them. Have a look in the IBM RoundTable on GEnie sometime. There are a lot of RLE pictures, text pictures, and straight text files that are fun and/or interesting. But, they have all been ARC'd. With ARC, you can recover them. I like ARC, in case you haven't noticed. But, I don't like ARC's being slow or the fact that we could be getting even better compression. Perhaps someone out there that is a better programmer that I could write such a version of ARC. After doing this test, as well as an earlier, much less formal test, I have come to the conclusion that what we as Atari 8-Bit users really need is totally different compression system to use on our files. Here are the points that it should contain... #1) It should be fast. About the

speed of DiskCom would be acceptable. #2) It must do high compression rates. 30% reduction at a minimum. #3) It should be easy to use. Either a good menu or command processor input would work. #4) It must be able to select the individual files to be included in the target file, like the current ARC. #5) It must be able to recover just one file from the compressed file. Like the IBM version of ARC. Who cares about compatibility? We have ARC, so we can get those RLE and text files. No one else will be using it except Atari 8-Bit users. So long as it is widely available. Maybe as shareware. Although, I doubt that the author would make much money from it that way. Just as a little side information, the recent member survey that was done in the GEnie Atari 8-Bit RoundTable gave the results for the different systems as: ARC DiskCom SCOPY No preference 57% 10% 01% 23%

Those are the percentages of the RT members that prefer that system. All other systems accounted for only 9% of the RT members. So, what is the conclusion? That depends on what you're doing. For online pay services like GEnie and CompuServe, the only real choice is ARC as it can save you lot of cash. For local BBSs, I'd look long and hard at DiskCom. For dedicated BBSs, let's say where a lot of the users have SpartaDOS, then use SCOPY. For me, until something better comes along, I'll stick with ARC and watch TV in my spare time. Of course, that's why I have two computers! ...Marty...

GEnie Mail address : MARTY.A (AUTHOR'S NOTE : If anyone has another compacting program that supports true double density, please send me a copy via the GEnie Atari 8-Bit RoundTable or by US Mail. I can be reached by US Mail at: Marty Albert Suite 6-216 P.O.Box 4005 Carmichael, CA 95609-4005 I plan to keep doing these comparisons until we get a good program! Thanks!) ______________________________________ Syndicate Zmagazine February 15, 1988 (c)1988 SPC/Ron Kovacs ______________________________________