STE SIG

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?

- Mega 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.


- Where's TOS 1.62

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....


- The New STACY

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...


- Epilogue To a Disaster...

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. 


- Another Sample Player

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....

- New PD stuff

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.

- GFA Basic 3.5E

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:-

5.   STE Support

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.



DMACONTROL ctrlvar
               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:

DMASOUND beg,end,rate[,ctrl]

               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%=360*32
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.


SETCOLOR

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:

SETCOLOR 2,13,13,13     


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....


- And Now For Something Completely Different....

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!


- And So To Conclude

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

Gary Spiteri
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