#004
07 января 1987

Outletters

Outletters
December, 1987       Page  Reply
 JOE SOUTHALL..........02   05
 BRIAN GAFF............06   10
 NORMAN UNITT..........12   15
 KELVIN MCWHA..........16   18
 BERNARD EARP..........22   24
 DON WEERASINGHE.......26   27
 G.A. JENNER...........28   29
 ANDREW CLAPHAM........30   35
 IAN BEEBY.............37   40 
FROM: JOE SOUTHALL


Dear Ron & Ray,  [Who? - B.C.]

How nice of you to send me
OUTLET 3 before I had sent a
cartridge.I had made the mistake
of thinking that it had to be
DURING November, not BEFORE
November. I am also indebted to
you for renewing OUTLET 1 which
I feared I had spoiled by my own
carelessness. I'm pleased to
hear that this was not so as I
am beset with hardware troubles
- so much so that I cannot even
load OUTLET 3! My faith in the
microdrive is sagging! Hence my
need to resort to Tasword to
contact you. 
Most of my cartridges are "once-
used" from various sources, but
the supply has virtually dried
up. I don't know your own stock
position, but I know that I
shall soon be short unless I
find some more. I realise that I
can rely on you for the OUTLET
cartridges, but I need more -
assuming that my MD eventually
works properly!

I have found one stockist with a
great many left, but he will
sell a minimum of 100 @ 50p each
plus VAT plus pp. This means a
minimum outlay of about `67 - a
little too hot for the likes of
me!

It occurred to me that you may 
be prepared to act as a sort of
agent for your members - at your
terms of course! I feel that
most of us would find such a
service a great help to obtain
10 or so at a time.

You probably know this already
and have enough for your needs.
If not, the stockist is "Applied
Technology" of Royston, Herts.
(Tel. 0763 41754).

To finish I would like to say
how much I enjoy & also
appreciate your trouble in
providing OUTLET and look
forward to the future.

         Your very satisfied
             client & friend,
                 Joe Southall 
P.S. I have sent you two
cartridges to square me for your
December issue. With this ruddy
keyboard it would have been
quicker to use pen and ink!

TO: JOE SOUTHALL FROM RON+BRIAN
We're both always glad to hear
that people are enjoying OUTLET-
it's worth all the effort!

We like your idea of supplying
cartridges to our readers but we
couldn't offer the used ones at
a fair price due to overheads,
handling costs, etc. and they'll
probably not be available much
longer.Reluctantly we gave up on
that.Even for new cartridges,the
best we can do is `1.85 each.
Let's try it and see. 
From: Brian Gaff

Hi, just received Issue 3 [бth
November - B.C.]. It all loads
OK. I have decided to send my
letter this way for a change!
[By Prestel Mailbox 014703943 -
B.C.]. You crammed a lot in this
time! By the way I guess you
realised that the program by Mr.
Sedgwick has already been up on
our SPECTACULAR area! (He He)
[bulletin board area on Prestel
- B.C.]

DISCOVERY: I have a Spectrados
which is a Discovery with no
drive fitted. I am looking for a
3.5" drive actuallly! You will
have to be careful as the BASIC,
though compatible with Mdrive, 
has some extensions that can
cause trouble.

2 DRIVE OUTLET: I agree its a
good idea, but perhaps it may be
better to plan these a month
ahead so that a list could be
published in the previous iss.
So we could omit a month, say
with an adventure we didn't want

MDRIVE CARTS: The WOMPER or ICL
OPD is still produced using
Mdrives & indeed I have seen
the four packs with ICL on 'em
in office supply shops.

COMMS: Well, I admit I don't
know all the answers, but if
there are any specific queries I
will be glad to help. 
The chap you had on this month's
issue [Nov.issue- B.C.], I think
was using the VTX711. This is
the worst interface I know of!
My only advice is, get rid of
it! If he must use a separate
modem & I/Face then the SPECTRE
is the best. As an alternative,
join PRESTEL, get their free
VTX5O00 & then buy a Comms Rom
from Spectre. This has very good
facilities. I use it for most
things. Of course if folk want
to access 300 Baud BBs then a
"real" modem & a Spectre Comms
Pack is all there is that is
reliable.

Note though that the VTX5O00
even with a Comms Rom may not
work with a 128K of any sort! 
128K: You can get some funnies
if you do EDIT on a 48K program
while in 128K! Take the line:
LET poke = PEEK val. Now this is
fine till you add a bit, or do
any change. As soon as you do
the variables poke & val get
seen as Speccy keywords & it
won't enter as it is not valid
syntax!

Oh well that's enough waffle,
will send cart soon (wot
happened to my prog?)

             - Brian 
To Brian Gaff from Brian Cavers

Yes, I saw Gary Sedgwick's great
program:- "MULTICOLS" up  on
SPECTACULAR. He agreed to let us
put it in OUTLET. I'd like to do
a high-res picture using that
multi-colour technique - I'm
sure it's not just a gimmick.

You'll have seen from the
editorial that OUTLET will be a
twin cartridge mag. from January
and we'll give brief details of
what's in the following issue in
our GETOUT section.

It's a good place and time for
me to apologize to other readers
for the omission of your program
COMPEXPAND,the screen compressor 
from Issue 3 (as promised in
GETOUT in Issue 2). This was due
to an intermittent bug in the
program that I only discovered
in the last few days of testing
before duplication. [I've been
in touch with Brian Gaff by
mailbox and hope he can sort out
the problem for a future issue].

           - Brian Cavers 
From: Mr N.H.Unitt

Dear Ron & Brian,

I've had a go with your second
offering and have managed to
mess up the cartridge by trying
to save Zip onto the same one
instead of my own! It seems that
I have corrupted "HUH" as it now
gives me "file not found"
although most of it is loaded.

Your plug on Micronet was the
immediate cause of my sending
for issue one. I had got so fed
up with buying magazines that
seemed to be nothing but games
and oft repeated strange words
such as "BRILL" and very little
of serious nature that I decided 
to splash out on OUTLET. It was
the best move that I've made for
some time.

My Spectrum + is used for
amusement only but not for games
(except Scrabble). My bank
account, household expenses,
Christmas lists and, most
recently, my daughter's wedding
present list have been held in
its bowels.

That last paragraph has given
away my age, hasn't it?

One of the things that I wrote
to amuse myself and family was
the program DAYCALC. It will
name the day for any date from
March 1901 to February 2100. But 
is the year 2000 a leap year? I
think it is but 1900 was not.
From that program came the
simple one JANCALC which
calculates 1st January for the
same years and finally came
CALENDAR. This one produces a
calendar for any of those years
and also has printer options for
the brother HR-5.

Perhaps they will amuse you or
if you wish other subscribers to
OUTLET. Finally perhaps you
could put HUH onto my cartridge
before you return it.

Yours sincerely,

(Norman Unitt) 
To: Mr. N.H. Unitt from Brian

I'll pass another note to Ron to
make sure but I think you should
have already received the fresh
copy of HUH? by now. Many thanks
for the programs which are in
this issue. I couldn't quite get
JANCALC in on its own (with
added QUIT options etc.) so
rather than not include it at
all I compressed it a bit and
merged it in at line 5000 in
DAYCALC.

I particularly liked the full
CALENDAR print-out. It's most
likely I'll be sticking that on
this year's calendar's picture
come the new year!
                    - Brian 
From: Kelvin McWha

Dear Ron,

Thank you for your letter about
the problem with my order for
the October issue of OUTLET. It
is nice to see in this day and
age that you have taken the
trouble to sort out my order
after the Post Office had almost
destroyed it.

My contribution was not much
unfortunately. Just a letter
saying what a great new
cartridge-magazine you have
brought out. Plus a couple of
requests for information.

My first Request is for 
information regarding Artist 2.
I wondered if anyone had been
able to get Artist 2 and
Pagemaker to print out via
Interface 1-RS232 to a Brother
HRS Printer. I have the latest
edition of Artist 2, and Softec
do not seem to be able to help
me.

Also you mentioned you have
found a method which increases
the reliability of microdrives.
Is there any chance of letting
us in on the secret.

Thanks once more for your
trouble.                                 

Yours sincerely,

         Kelvin McWha  
To: Kelvin McWha from Brian


The nucleus of our routine to
improve microdrive reliablity is
to detect any dubious sectors on
a cartridge and isolate them by
saving a 500 byte file called:
CHR$ 0+"PATCH" on to them. To do
this we use some modified
routines from MDOCTOR. This does
not seem to be available anymore
unfortunately and, since it is
copyright of course, we can't
include it in OUTLET. However,
there are other similar
utilities which presumably have
the capacity to write directly
to a sector. Perhaps another
reader may have information on
that. 
Some versions of Artist II have
a fault in the bit-image coding.
If you load Pagemaker and break
in and PEEK 64034 = 7 then POKE
64034,1 and then run the program
and load a screen or something
and try the printer. However, as
I understand it, the same fault
is present in the main program
but you don't mention whether
you can get dumps O.K. from
Artist II itself. If not, the
POKES are: 65180,1 & 65186,1. I
have not yet tried these last 2
POKES but I did try the one in
Pagemaker and it worked O.K.

If the above works alright on
your system then you will, of
course, need to re-save the code
to form a customised copy of the
 
program or you'll have to POKE
the values in each time loaded.
SAVE "ARTISTII" LINE 1
SAVE "SCREEN$" SCREEN$
SAVE "artCODE" CODE 26000,39536
SAVE "pagemaker"LINE 15
SAVE "fonts" CODE 29696,3072
SAVE "scrcode" CODE 47000,1275
SAVE "scrdump"CODE 64000,107
SAVE "writeload" CODE 39700,45.
I can't guarantee all these
values of course as your version
may be slightly different so if
you have a header reader to
check the code lengths and start
lines then I suggest you use it.

Now, it may well be that all the
above is of no use to you! The
real problem may be that the HRS
is not quite Epson-compatible in 
which case I am doubtful that
anything can be done short of
re-writing the code. We do have
one or two other HRS owners
amongst our readers who may be
able to advise. In any event I'd
be interested to hear how you
get on.

I'd also be interested to hear
if anyone knows of a POKE to
disable the automatic mouse
detection in ARTIST II. It seems
that it detects my MULTIFACE 1 -
thinks it's a mouse and locks up
the keyboard! That's my theory
anyway! (No cheesy jokes please)

                 - Brian 
From: Bernard Earp                

Dear Chezron,

Another attempt at getting this
set up to put together a letter
without crashing or locking
solid.

I have enclosed 002 and 2 carts
as 002 seems to have locked
solid in its case, if this is a
fault in my set up please
duplicate it (002 NOT the fault)
on one cart and send it back
with the next issue. If you
think the fault's at your end
(it was a new cart I sent) well,
then I am one cart in credit. 
Your news about a possible 2
cart OUTLET is great news for
me, if not for my bank balance,
you could advertise the coming
main features and let the
readers decide whether to send
on one or two carts though I
realise the mess this would make
of your bookkeeping.

I believe that it IS possible to
return to 48k mode from within
128k mode and still access the
discdrive. It is starting out in
48k that shuts you out of the
drive.

Bernard Earp 
             TO BERNARD FROM RON
Dear Bernard,

By the time you see this in
OUTLET you will have received a
replacement for 002. As I
explained, we had a bad batch of
cartridges and, whilst we
managed to eliminate a lot of
these during our Format/Test/
Duplication/Test routines, a few
slipped out carrying the October
issue. We do try to ensure that
the same cartridges go back to
the Users that sent them but, as
you can imagine, it is pretty
horrendous trying to keep track
of them all (some days, I feel
like I'm juggling soot!) so
apologies for swapping your good
cartridge for a duff one. 
Also by this time you will have
seen from the new order form
that we will be continuing with
the single cartridge option as
well as introducing the new,
two-cartridge OUTLET.

Thanks for info about the +3
we're more and more puzzled by
this...

           -Ron 
FROM DON WEERASINGHE

Dear Ron & Brian,

Really enjoyed your OUTLET 2 and
look forward to the November
issue.

Sorry for the delay, my son and
I were trying to solve your JIG!
BLOX but found it too tough.

Managed to pick up another
microdrive for `15 (including
postage and packing) so I now
have 2. Also picked up about 30
carts at about 50p each - also a
number of microdrive books.
Having fun!

If any one is interested there
 
is a chap selling an I/F 1 and 2
mdrives for `40 (see below)

With best wishes. Hope to meet
you at the ZX MICROFAIR on 12th
December.
           Yours sincerely,
                    Don      
--------------------------------
FOR SALE: I/F 1 + 2 DRIVES - `40
FROM: MR. ROBIN ABBOTT
11 TWYNHAM COURT, TWYNHAM ROAD
SOUTHBOURNE, DORSET (0202 420216
HOME)   (0202 486344 OFFICE)
--------------------------------

TO DON WEERASINGHE FROM RON+BRI
Thanks Don. Sorry about the JIG!
BLOX - try this month's - just
as tough but the prettiest one
yet! Looking forward to seeing
you at the ZXM! 

Dear R & BC,

You now contemplate a second
cartridge! This may make the
cost to many prohibitive. What
about a cassette that will take
both cartridge contents with a
suitably split tape-to-cartridge
program to allow the use of
temporary cartridge loading with
OUTLET remaining on the cassette
for permanent retention?

This opens up the possibility of
even longer programs with a
microdrive facility for fast
loading and a satisfaction to
subscribers.

           G.A. JENNER 

TO: MR. G.A. JENNER FROM BRIAN


Remember, you will still be able
to obtain the single cartridge
of OUTLET at the present price
and all the topical material
like letters, the editorial,
important messages, will all be
on the first cartridge. The 2nd
cartridge will be optional.

However, I like your idea of
SUPPLYING the magazine on
cassette with a built in
transfer to microdrive and we'll
certainly keep thinking on this
as a future possibility.

                    - Brian 
FROM: ANDREW CLAPHAM


Hello,

   I was mightily surprised to
see TWO of my letters in Issue 3
and the detail of your replies.
Thank you.

   In connection with Outlet and
the Plus 3, referring back to
P.C.W. 3-9 July last,in their
LETTERS,one headed Spectrum disc
limitations has, as the last
sentence of P.C.W.'s reply,the
following-

  "The disc system on the Plus
   3 can be used in both 48k
   and 128k mode." 
   Assuming that this is correct
and the word 'not' has not been
omitted,then there is hope for
Outlet on the Plus 3 yet.

   Also in P.C.W. this time
23-29 Oct was a small ad from-
V.I.Jenkinson, Beausite House,
Meadow Lane, Over, Cambridge.
СВЧ SNF. advertising MDV
cartridges at `2.25 for four.
Yes! four.I chanced my arm and
ordered 16. They came in QL
wallets and only needed some
sellotape sticking over where
the write protect lug should be.
I have previously bought these
for `1 each,being once used. Now
the point is a slip came with
them saying, further supplies
are available at between `2.50 
and `2.75 per four, but are only
`2.50 for existing customers
until 1Sth Dec.-So as a short
term goodie the lowest price
yet!

   I have not so far seen any
mention of the MAX and VISION
WIMP systems perhaps you could
provide more info on them in the
near future.

   Since you have the two
cartridge issue pretty well
taped! how about an occasional
double issue to test the water
so to speak. Or better still how
about a Grand Double Issue
Christmas Special to give us
some respite from the
Festivities- or have you already 
thought of this but it's too
short notice?

   Congrats on your imaginative
cover pages for each issue, I
look forward to the next in
anticipation. It must be
becoming a full-time job
assembling each issue not to
mention the transferring onto
each individual cartridge. A
little note of just what goes
into the production of each
issue together with the
attendant file administration
for each subscriber would serve
to show us just what value we
get for each `1.

   I know this is rather long-it
shows what you can do with two
 
fingers and the cursor keys, I
really must learn how to use
Tasword properly!

           Regards, Andrew.

P.S.I almost forgot. I recently
bought a copy of BLAST-YOUR
BASIC and had only one success
in compiling a program through
it.However it made Absolutely no
difference to the running speed
of the program in question. Then
I read in the Spectrum section
of Everyday Electronics 'that
Blast promises so much and gives
so little!' Does any Outlet
subscriber know of a MDV
compatible compiler that
actually works?.
TO: ANDREW CLAPHAM FROM BRIAN

So there may be hope yet for the
+3 version of OUTLET!

Thanks for info about cartridges
as it may reassure some readers
who also saw the ad but weren't
too sure whether to risk it!

I've not heard any more about
the VISION desktop but I have
seen recent confirmation that
the MAX is genuinely waiting
only for the documentation to be
printed. We'll advise as soon as
we know that either is on sale.

Glad you like the OUTLET cover
pages - I really enjoy doing
them! Yes - a tremendous amount 
of effort goes into each issue
of OUTLET and I'd been thinking
of doing a short article of just
how OUTLET is produced so your
comment prompts me to get on
with this.

I'd seen BLAST YOUR BASIC
blasted in many reviews and
letters pages! However, the
HISOFT BASIC compiler is getting
good things said about it. Brian
Gaff has that compiler. How
about a short review, Brian?

             - Brian 
From: Ian Beeby

Dear Sir,

Thanks for sending me a copy of
OUTLET 002. I was very impressed
with the quality of production
of the magazine, and with the
integrity of the data, it loaded
first time every time! I have as
a result placed an order.

Suggestions for possible future
inclusions? How about a screen
COPY routine to the RS232 port
so that I can use Masterfile mf.
on my Brother HRS printer? Or a
utility for loading corrupted
Microdrive files for correction?
Also I would be very happy if
anyone could provide me with an 
algorithm in Basic for adding
together two or more sets of
times in mins secs and tenths of
secs for a scoreboard program I
am attempting to write!!! I
would be happy to contribute
something for the magazine if I
had the required programming
skill, but in the circumstances,
I rely on others to do that.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Beeby

P.S. think how much more you
could cram on a screen if you
used 40/50/64 characters per
line?

P.P.S. I have a microdrive
 
version of Your Spectrum's
MEGABASIC 0.4 a truly amazing
BASIC implementation, do any of
your other readers have this
program? Have you seen it
yourselves? Cheers! I.B. 
To: Ian Beeby from Brian

Thanks - glad you like the mag.

I think MASTERFILE uses the
Spectrum ROM COPY command to the
ZX printer - certainly the early
versions. The only way I can see
that might work is to alter the
CALL instruction in the MASTER-
FILE code to call your own COPY
software. Anybody feel like
hacking? I could use this myself
actually as I spent some time
hacking into the BASIC string
variable which holds the data so
that I could print it out only
to realize that it is not STORED
in alphabetical order - it's
only DISPLAYED ON SCREEN in
order. 
Here's a simple algorithm for
adding two different times (for
more than two just keep adding!)
If your accumulated time is, say
20 mins 45.8 secs. and you wish
to add 6 mins 30.2 secs then:-

 MINUTES     SECONDS     TENTHS
LET m1=20   LET s1=45   LET t1=8
LET m2=6    LET s2=30   LET t2=2

10 LET t1=t1+t2: IF t1>=10 THEN
LET s1=s1+1: LET t1=t1-10

20 LET s1=s1+s2: IF s1>=60 THEN
LET m1=m1+1: LET s1=s1-60

30 LET m1=m1+m2

If you don't particularly need
to store the tenths of seconds 
separately then forget the t1
and t2 variables just:-

LET s1=45.8: LET s2=30.2

then omit line 10 completely.

Yes, I think 64 characters a
line is not comfortable reading
on the Spectrum but 40 to 50
would be nice. No reason why we
haven't implemented it that I
can think of other than finding
time to develop the routines.

Reviews I've read of MEGABASIC
make me envious. I wish we could
see some of your programs but I
think MEGABASIC needs to be
present to use them doesn't it?
Is your scoreboard program in 
MEGABASIC or Sinclair BASIC? If
normal Sinclair BASIC, why not
send it in when finished? This
is the purpose of OUTLET. We're
not simply looking for highly
professional programs. If you
don't feel confident in your
programming then your writing
ability is clearly good enough
to do an article. How about a
review of MEGABASIC? All you do
is just kid yourself you're
writing a letter, ramble on a
bit longer than normal and stick
to one subject - dead easy - and
it gets you a free double issue
of OUTLET. So would your score-
board program. Anyway, we don't
push anyone in OUTLET - enjoy
the magazine - that's what it's
all about!
               - Brian.



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