~~~ Okay I admit it - I'm human and I made a mistake. I said in my last article that ARC v6.02 doesn't work on the STE and one should use DCOPY v3.6 and use ZOO as a replacement. I was wrong! The copy of ARC v6.02 I tested was corrupt and crashed - but infact ARC v6.02 works great on the STE and so ignore everything I said to the contrary. Thanks to Huw Price and Tony Barker for showing me the light.
So, whats new on the STE?
Well I suppose the biggest STE related news is the new MEGA STE. This machine is based on a standard STE, packed in a TT style box and keyboard (but in standard ST gray) and have the TT style VME bus. The Motorola 68000 CPU is clocked at twice that of the 520/1040 STE, a blazing 16MHz.
Because of its TT styling, the MEGA STE had room to "dock" a internal hard drive, the machine will be supplied with a 40 or 48 Meg hard drive and will be sold (for example) in 2 or 4 Meg configuration with a Mono Monitor and Calamus, Fleetstreet Publisher III or DeskSet 2 included
The machine has TOS 2.0 and GEM 2.2 - both being scaled down versions the TT OS and TT desktop respectively. There is still strong speculation about whether GEM 2.2 (the TT desktop) will migrate to ST/STE's.
I see this machine as a real MAC Classic and Amiga 500/2000 killer! And a great stepping stone between ST/STE's and the heady heights of the TT.
Complete details of the MEGA STE were in Inside Info #49.
Anyone who owns a modem and reads the STE message area on the ACE BBS, will be aware of the message I forwarded from the European Echo. In short, the rumour is that Atari will release TOS 1.62 (as an upgrade) sometime early this year (in Europe anyway). I'll keep you informed....
STACY, the laptop ST, has been redesigned mainly because of criticism about the battery life of a hard drive based system - which was about 30 minutes. In the process, the STACY has acquired STE specification - with TOS 1.62 and DMA sound etc...
All new STE's have TOS 1.62 and the new DMA chip that won't cause hard drive problems. Those STE's manufactured for the UK market (and ours I think) have a small red dot after the serial number to indicate a "new" STE with the above fixes installed.
Double Click Software, makers of the brilliant DC Formatter, has just released the "DC DMA Sound Player". This public domain program is contained in DCDSND.ARC which has just been placed on GENIE. I'm trying to get it myself, but if you have it contact me so I can release it in the PD library.
As it is, the PD library is well stocked with 3 sample players. Two of them are TTP/TOS programs - which means they are to be run from a Command Line Interpreter. The third, STESND.PRG is a GEM program thats easy to use has everything controlled by action buttons and mouse (My recommended one of the three).
There's only one problem, ACE NSW has NO SAMPLES to play with. I'm trying to fix that problem, there's a chance that a program will be written to convert MAC samples to STE format (nudge, nudge, wink, wink Tony!). If any one has ANY raw sample files in STE format or know where or how to get some please let me know....
I'll be getting the PD patch to fix older versions of STOS soon, so watch this space... Actually the new version of STOS is in Australia - look out for it and check it on an STE BEFORE you buy it!
I've just finished compiling v1.4 (8.1.91) of the STE BlackList, its on this disk and in the STE area of the ACE BBS.
Yes GFA Basic 3.5E is here, and its great! Infact Green Valley (in Perth) will sell you the latest and greatest version of GFA Basic Interpreter and Compiler - v3.5EE. This version is the same as v3.5E but the extra 'E' stands for Extended - indicating the increased number of variables allowed in v3.5EE (actually GFA Systemtechnik GmbH was requested to do this by the programmers of QuickBBS).
GFA Basic v3.5EE supports the STE's extra features, here's an exsert from the README.TXT file on the interpreter disk:-
Version 3.5E has some new commands specific for use on the Atari STE computer:
STICK(i) The values for 'i' on the STE can now be in the range 0 to 5. 0 and 1 act the same as normally found on the ST but 2 - 5 are exclusively for the STE, and DO NOT check for the mouse at the same time. This effectively speeds up the joystick polling.
STRIG(i) This is the equivalent Joystick Button command.
The following commands are available for reading the STE's paddle controllers.
PADX(i) This command gives the X position of one of the 2 paddles (i can be 0 or 1). PADY(i) The equivalent Y-Position. PADT(i) This command reads the paddle buttons.
The following commands are available for reading the STE's lightpen socket.
LPENX The X position of a connected lightpen. LPENY The Y position of a connected lightpen.
You now have the ability to detect which computer your GFA programs are running on with the commands:
STE? Returns -1 for STE(or TT), otherwise 0. TT? Returns -1 for 68020 or 68030 Processor, otherwise 0.
ctrlvar = 0 Stop sound.
1 Play sound once. 3 Play sound in loop.
With the following command, you can play sampled DMA sound with the STE:
beg = Sample start address. end = Sample end address. rate = Sample rate (0=6.25 kHz, 1=12.5 kHz, 2=25 kHz, 3=50 kHz). ctrl = See command DMACONTROL, (above)
MWOUT mask,data This command controls the STE-Interne Micro-Wire-Interface, and is currently used for controlling sound.
MWOUT &H7FF,x x=&X10 011 ddd ddd Set Master Volume 000 000 -80 dB 010 100 -40 dB 101 xxx 0 dB
The value of the last 5 Bits is eqivalent to HALF of the volume in dB.
x=&X10 101 xdd ddd Set Right Channel Volume 00 000 -40 dB 01 010 -20 dB 10 1xx 0 dB x=&X10 100 xdd ddd Set Right Channel Volume The last 4 Bits*2 = dB x=&X10 010 xxd ddd Set Treble x=&X10 001 xxd ddd Set Bass 0 000 -12dB 0 110 0 dB (flat) 1 100 +12 dB x=&X10 000 xxx xdd Set Mix 00 -12dB 01 Mix GI Sound (normaler ST) 10 Not Mix 11 Reserved
Example: MWOUT &H7FF,&X10000000010 Switches the ST's sound off.
In the following example, try each of the DMASOUND lines for different effects.
PRINT STE? ! Prints -1 if an STE n%=36032 DIM a|(n%) ' DMASOUND V:a|(0),V:a|(n%),0 ' DMASOUND V:a|(0),V:a|(n%),1 ' DMASOUND V:a|(0),V:a|(n%),2 DMASOUND V:a|(0),V:a|(n%),3,3 FOR i%=0 TO n% a|(i%)=128+SINQ(i%i%/7200)*127 NEXT i% REPEAT UNTIL MOUSEK DMACONTROL 0
For the STE, MERGE'ing Basic files will stop when a right arrow, (Control-D), is found at the start of the line.
The STE's enhanced colour is now also supported, and the available 4096 colours can be accessed by use of SETCOLOR as normal, but the values can now be in the range of 0 to 15. Eg:
I hope that Ian Connor, author of FRACTAL ZOOM, whose a member of MACE has this version of GFA Basic and will update his program to support the 4096 colour palette. If not, I'm tempted to hack the source code myself and recompile a new version....
I hate being critical, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to be. Those lucky enough to read ZNET and ST Report online magazines will know about the doom and gloom buzzing around the American market. I believe our market is quite similar and I feel I want to vent my anguish...
1990 in my mind will go down as the year that wasn't.
1990 started well, the Atari Expo held at the QVB being great. After weathering the years of Futuretronics and Mobex with my 800XL, I believed that finally Atari was about to blossom. The STE was released (but it was only playing games at the Expo) and a advertising campaign was promised. I was happy to be a Atari owner and felt we would kick Amiga where it hurts - with a better machine with better software....
But what happened? I know that STE's were being sold at a good rate, but no advertising! I have a friend who I won't name, who had actually read the scripts of TV adverts based a on very successful British campaign and had seen a new integrated pamphlet/box presentation style for the entire ST/STE/Mega range. It was going to present Atari as a professional computer company, making professional computers.
But what happened? The only TV advert I saw was the Atari Lynx sponsored Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie, and which also appeared occasionally during Doulble Dare. Here is a company attempting to gain recognition as a professional computer company adverting itself as a maker of games machines - how will people not assume that the ST/STE is just another games machine too. I did see some ST adverts in the TV Extra pull out of the weekend Telegraph but I believe these are not good enough! Where was the advertising to counter the Amiga adverts around the critical Christmas period?
These questions also lurk in my mind:-
Why has Grace Brothers all but given up on the Atari? The sales people know lots about the Amiga, but nothing about the ST. I watched a salesman in the Sydney City store spend 20 minutes trying to connect a printer that someone was about to buy to an ST. After I helped him he was shocked when he turned on the machine and found that he didn't have to insert a KickStart boot disk and was equally shocked by the fact that the ST had windows like a Amiga.
Why is it that when I offered to donate the latest STE demos (like Jungle and Bananna Fish) to my local Dick Smith store, they declined saying that they were under orders from Atari to run only their offical STE demos (ie Tony Barker's Fantasia, SoundOff et al)?
Why is it the only place I see ST's connected to monochrome monitors are computer stores like ComputerFair and Computer 1?
Why doesn't Atari log on to the ACE BBS? What better way to get close to their user base and get the latest software... (We had Jungle and the rest of the UK demos long before Atari did!)
Did you know that Atari New Zealand has a very healthy market and a large number and amazing Atari only BBS's based on CD ROM players? And guess what, they advertise the ST on TV....!
I did see one other Atari promotion - at my local shopping centre, Macathur Square, for three days an Atari rep had a line of Atari 2600 VCS systems connected to TV's playing games....
And after one considers all this, one can reason why all the stores stocking ST's have more and more games and less and less applications on their shelves. As one store manager put it "Games sale, and serious stuff doesn't."
I suppose a possible scenario is that the ST range are just for whose who want to upgrade from their 8 bit machine... Another is that Atari will come out all singing and dancing with a STE/Mega STE/TT/Stacy release sometime this year... is this too much too late in light of the MAC Classic and MAC LC?
One thing I can commend Atari on, is the prompt release of the new 14" colour monitor, and at such an attractive price. Well done!
I hope you didn't mind my winge and I'll welcome any comments about what I've said... I'd love to see Atari actually respond and answer the above questions.
I've now set myself up as a "point" on the ACE BBS by using THE-BOX mailer system to send and receive my messages. For obvious reasons I do not have access to the private mail area. This means that if you send me a Private Mail message (from the Messages menu) I won't read it (and hence reply) until I actually log-on, which is once a week. If you want a quick response to any message (and this includes private messages too), write the message (and if necessary set it to private) in some other area like "General Chatter", "STE" or "16 bit Software". Or if you are not a user of the ACE board but are a FidoNet point then my FidoNet address is 3:712/520.5 (this is for interstate and international readers).
And so ends this installment of STE SIG. Remember, if you know of anything that isn't on the BlackList or have STE specific PD software that ACE NSW doesn't have, or STE news, views and reviews - please contact me. 8-)
Bye for now.... Gary Spiter ACE NSW STE Officer ACE NSW ST PD Purchasing Officer