by Andy Eddy
If you take a peek out your window, you'll see that summer is heating up. Likewise, things are heating up on Delphi. By now, the much requested separation of the Atari camps into two SIGs should have taken place. At the time of this writing (early April), the work was nearly completed to move ST files into that area and get the road paved for the smooth transition. The housekeeping includes such chores as selecting topic names for Forum and Database entries, and getting the shopping area "built" for those individuals and companies interested in selling their wares on Delphi. This is one of the less discussed aspects of the network, and we'll touch on it in a future Database Delphi installment.
Also up in the air at the time of this writing was the actual name of the SIG. The plan was to keep the title (as it will appear on the Groups menu) unique, so users can type just a couple of letters to enter the desired SIG (such as typing AT to get to the ANALOG/Atari SIG previously). Unfortunately, the name couldn't begin with the obvious choice of "ST," or there would be a conflict with the Starship Commodore SIG; similarly, using "AT" for Atari or "AN" for ANALOG would conflict with the existing 8-bit SIG. There's nothing more annoying than getting "The term ‘ST’ defines more than one command," Delphi's reply to menu collisions like the ones just noted would cause.
By the time you sit in your sundrenched lawn chair to read this—if you're not already prone, please do so now—the issue will have been resolved and you'll have found your way to our new home. Just the same, we'll note it in the next Database Delphi. No matter what the outcome, the staff overseeing the data flow will continue to be the same cheery lot as before.
A Glance Askance
The forum has also been warming to a variety of subjects lately—some good, some potentially bad. Talk of WordPerfect dropping ST support (which was later vehemently denied by the company), mention of a new product called Turbo-ST (an interesting piece of software that claims to act like a text blitter, speeding moves of characters onscreen) and the potential of bringing up a matching desktop configuration when changing resolutions, were among the loftier subjects of discussion. The latter was bandied back and forth between some of the programming gurus online, namely Lloyd Pulley (MADMODIFIER, author of the public domain, multipurpose boot program called Megamatic), Darek Mihocka (DAREKM, author of the ST Xformer, 8-bit emulator) and our own Charles F. Johnson (CFJ). Apparently there is a solution to this dilemma, but you'll have to wait to see it for yourself, as Charles is planning on gracing ST-Log readers with his fix. For now, mum's the word.
As far as the other topics I mentioned, they are more related than they appear. If I may stand on the soapbox for a second, most everyone is sufficiently concerned by the stigma that piracy has placed on the ST market. The rumor spread that WordPerfect would drop the ST as a market due to the discovery of some BBSs carrying the word processor in their libraries; but of course WordPerfect isn't alone in their concern. Many other developers, big and small alike, are getting scared off.
If you look at the other side of the coin, smaller scale developers like Wayne Buckholdt of Softrek, the makers of Turbo-ST, show the exciting, barely tapped potential of the ST. Only if enough people buy the products—as opposed to stealing them—will our favorite computer continue to flourish. Furthermore, if piracy continues unabated, it lessens the ability for the manufacturers to support the brand lucratively.
The bottom line—and we've said it before—is to discourage piracy in all forms. It's illegal to possess a program that you haven't paid for, yet it's very difficult for anyone to do anything about it. It requires a certain amount of consumer responsibility. If you own pirate software, either destroy it or pay for it; if you know of someone dealing pirated products, tell them you don't appreciate what they are doing; if you know of a pirate BBS, contact the Software Publishers Association (Suite 1200, 1111 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036) and/or the manufacturers whose products appear on the board. Software for Atari computers has always been reasonably priced, so there's no reason to take it. You'll do us all a favor. End of sermon. Please be seated.
Ready, Set. . . SET!
In the brief space we have left, we can look over how to best wangle our way through the materials we have at hand on Delphi: SETTINGS.
At the ANALOG > prompt (or any SIG prompt for that matter), type SET. It works like this:
ANALOG > What do you want to do? set Preferences Menu:
All the stuff here is reasonably self-explanatory, though we'll go in depth on the editors at a later date, as there is too much to cover in a short glimpse.
The power selection here is Settings, and if you enter SET again, this time from the PREFERENCES > prompt, you'll get the following:
(Name,Edit,Top,Set,Help,Exit) set Some of your temporary settings are being restored to their initialization values.
SETTINGS > ?
Again, the entries are descriptive enough in most cases to get you by. Simply put, you can tailor your characteristics to whatever you desire. Would you like to do file transfers in Ymodem? Go to the XMODEM-SETTING menu. Would you like to limit the time that you can stay idle and remain online? Simply go to the TIMEOUT area and set a value. That way, if you are called away in a hurry and don't log off, Delphi will automatically terminate the session in that amount of time. As a warning that the time-out figure is coming nigh, you'll get the message, "Please respond within 30 seconds to avoid being automatically logged off," just in case you were asleep at the wheel and still want to stick around.
Perhaps the most powerful feature from the Settings area is the DEFAULT-menu selection. Here you can enter what you want Delphi to do for you when you first log on. For example, my Default menu is GRO AT WHO (short for GROUPS ATARI WHO). When the initial log-in procedure is completed by Delphi, it reads the GRO AT WHO as if it was typed in. Saving me the trouble, it runs me past the GROUPS AND CLUBS area, to the ANALOG/Atari SIG and then gives me a listing of who is online in the ANALOG Atari SIG at the time.
It's important to note that some of these selections are not for the layman telecommunicator. And keep in mind that if you frequent different SIGs, you'll need to set up some SETTINGS from area to area. Just the same, with a bit of playing, you can find out what most of the other functions do and can best put them to your benefit.
Book Him, Mike. . .
I've also just picked up a copy of Michael Banks' (Database Delphi columnist for ANALOG Computing) book, Delphi: The Official Guide, a Brady Book, which is published by Prentice Hall Press. I realize that informing you of this may ultimately put me out of a job, due to the fact that this book covers everything I might want to talk about here. A 500-page handbook, Delphi: The Official Guide, is a great reference tome that details all you'd ever want to know about Delphi. It's only $19.95, and will easily save you that much in online costs. If you want to save some time in picking up a copy, you can order online by typing GO GUIDE.
In association with Delphi, ANALOG is able to offer a sign-up that can put the guide in your hands and get you a regular account on Delphi at the same time, provided you aren't already a member. This reduced price offer—available after May 1st—not only gives you a lifetime membership to Delphi (a $19.95 value), but also a copy of Delphi: The Official Guide and a free hour of online time at non-prime rates. If you log into Delphi employing username JOINDELPHI and password ANALOG, you'll be brought up to this signup offer.
Finally, don't forget that we meet every Tuesday night in the Conference area, at 10 p.m. Eastern time. This will continue to be the date after the new ST SIG has started up. Turnout has been increasing and conversations cover all topics, so stop by and chat with us.
Till next month, C U online....