Classic Computer Magazine Archive ST-Log ISSUE 20 / JUNE 1988 / PAGE 50

DATABASE DELPHI

by Andy Eddy

As you may have discovered, there's quite a range of SIG topics on Delphi: some detail various brands of computers (as we do in the Analog/Atari SIG); others reflect specific interests (such as the Micro Artists, or MANIAC SIG, as it's called). All of them are formatted similarly using the software Delphi has implemented for the system operation, but each area has been molded into a unique venue. The SIG manager(s) decides what topics will best reflect the interests of their members. In the Atari SIG, we have ours divided into specific ST and 8-bit categories that make it easier to scan through the megabytes of files and messages available.

This structure is defined by the SIG Manager and Delphi's people, so that anyone coming in will be greeted by consistency and comfort—an important consideration if you want to keep people coming back time after time. There's no doubt that many information providers' menu structures can be very cryptic, leaving the user's wallet at the mercy of the documentation, but I feel that Delphi is on the top end of all the systems when it comes to clarity, because of their employment of English in the menus.

Regardless of what service you use, though, the structure is generally firmly in place, and there's not much the user can contribute directly (other than suggestions) with regards to how the system is laid out. Delphi, as an exception, has one area that is entirely open to the creativity and whim of the users, allowing surveys to be created and voted on in whatever topic they choose—computer-oriented or not. Let's look at the P section in a little more depth.

At the time of this writing, the Poll area had been cleared of all but the most recent entries. In the past, it has brought queries ranging from whether or not there is interest in buying or up-grading to a Mega ST, to what kind of games are most popular and even the feelings about the quality of the new Star Trek series. Diversity, to say the least.

If you have some time, you can garner a good cross section of data on any subject. I've also used the polls to informally research demographics in specific areas of the Atari community and used the results in articles. For example, one of the current polls is attempting to determine who is the favored candidate in the presidential campaign.

To enter the polling area, type POLL from the Analog ≤ prompt. It can actually be abbreviated PO or P, as long as you make the selection unique enough that Delphi knows what you are specifying. We'll discuss this more in detail later.

Once you get the POLL ≤ prompt, the menu reads:

BROWSE through poll results

CREATE a new poll

EDIT your poll comment

HELP

LIST poll names

RESULTS with comments

EXIT

POLL > (BROWSE, CREATE, EDIT, LIST, RESULTS, VOTE)

Getting to the Poll Position

If you opt to create a new poll, the prompts that Delphi gives are usually enough to get you through. The first thing asked for is the poll name. After naming the poll, you are given the choice of what kind of poll you would like: Yes/No, Multiple Choice or a range between Strongly Agree and Strongly Disagree. This provides any configuration that you may need for getting the best data possible.

After the construction process is finished, Delphi makes the survey public, adding it to the existing list for voting and optional comment. In a poll I just created (this is being written in early March), I'm trying to get an idea of which ST game titles are the most popular. For that reason, I've made the poll multiple choice so the respondents can add titles that I didn't originally place on the list. Here's what it looks like after typing RE GA (short for RESULTS GAME) from the POLL> prompt:

POLL> (BROWSE, CREATE, EDIT, LIST, RESULTS, VOTE) re ga GAME HALL OF FAME, created by ANAL0G2.

Creation date: FEB. 29, 1988

There has been a good amount of talk recently, given the release of Dungeon Master (by FTL), about some of the great gameware there is for the ST. Take some time to tell us what you think is the best in your view. You can enter your own choices, even come back later and change your mind if you see a better selection. Please note in your comment what you chose so others know what you are commenting on.

CHOICE VOTES PERCENT
Dungeon Master 1 25%
StarGlider 1 25%
Pawn 0 0%
Oids 1 25%
Test Drive 0 0%
Time Bandit 1 25%
Universal Military S 0 0%
TOTAL VOTE: 4

Comments:

Time Bandit has the right stuff to make me keep coming back and back after affairs with StarGlider, Ogre, or even Gunship. I added UMS, but my vote goes to the hands-down winner—DM! While I think Dungeon Master is a great adventure, I'm not an avid adventurer. Rather, I opt for the arcade talents of Oids and its editor section that lets you add more galaxies to the ones that came with the game. A E VOTE on this poll? (Y/N)

There's no easier way to find out user interest and have the results compiled than to use the poll software Delphi has provided. Stop by every now and then to vote on new polls, update your previous responses or add you own polls.

DELPHI NEWS

As this is being written, Delphi is finishing up the beta testing of some new features in their system software. One of those is the addition of Ymodem Batch for file transfer in your work-space and the databases. Those who send and receive files already should be familiar with Xmodem, a transfer protocol that breaks the file down into 128 byte chunks or "packets," and sends them in a hands-off operation. Each block also contains a checksum so the transmitting terminal can confirm accurate reception by the receiver. If an error is encountered, the block is automatically reset.

Similar to Xmodem, Ymodem sends the file in 1K blocks, which generally results in quicker transfers overall. An enhanced version of Ymodem—called Ymodem Batch—allows groups of files to be sent in 1K packets, as opposed to the manual one-by-one situation that currently exists.

Let's say you wish to download four ARCed (Archived) files that reside in your workspace. Ymodem Batch allows you to select files one at a time or with wild cards, and then start the chained transfer of all the files. In the above situation, YBatch (as we'll call it) is initiated, you could type YBD * ARC (which tells Delphi to YBatch Download all files with an .ARC extender) from the WS > (workspace) prompt. Of course you'll need to use terminal software that supports YBatch—the latest versions of Flash, Interlink and ST-Talk Professional 2.0, all offer YBatch compatibility.

When you tell your software to begin the transfer, the other comfort of YBatch becomes apparent: the filenames are sent automatically with the file. Folks like myself who are extremely lazy now can vegetate further in front of their terminal; better yet, some terminal software is being designed with "background transfer" ability, which functions like a printer spooler. It allows you to continue with other processes while it transfers the file from a buffer area in memory; this, in essence, enables you to double your productivity. Who said the ST can't multitask?

That about covers it for now. Till next month, C U online....