The Programmers Workshop
5230 Clark Ave., Suite 23
Lakewood, CA 90712
$19.95, 24K--diskette & cassette
Reviewed by Dave Mentley
The inspiration for Tycoon clearly came from that famous Parker Brothers board game--Monopoly. You now have an alternative to sitting around the kitchen table at 2 a.m. arguing whether or not you need four houses to buy a hotel. With this game you can sit around the tube and practice trading stocks, gold and real estate, merely by putting your thumb to the joystick button.
Tycoon is a board game written in BASIC for one to four players. The computer will play against a single person, or four players can compete if you have four joysticks. The game code appears to be well written and totally crashproof, however there are a few typos in the screen presentation.
Players are asked their names at the start of the game. This is the only keyboard input required. A pair of dice is rolled by pressing the red joystick button, identical to Monopoly. (By the way, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Monopoly is not a trademark as it has become generic. Tycoon could have been called Monopoly.) The board squares which lie on the left half of the screen are unmarked because they are too small for a meaningful label. This takes some fun out of the dice roll. You could hope for snake eyes to land on Inheritance if you knew where it was on the board. As it is, the right half of the screen tells you where you are when you land on it. It also tells you want your options are--BUY, SELL, PASS, etc. and what your estate is worth.
There are ten types of squares on the board:
GOLD--you can buy units (ounces?) when you land on GOLD. The price per unit changes rapidly throughout the game affecting your net worth.
STOCKS--The stock value acts as a portfolio with less volatility than the gold. There are no individual securities you can trade.
REAL ESTATE--Rent is due when you land on real estate owned by another player. Rents and property values escalate as the game proceeds.
GAMBLE--This is an uncontrollable bet with a 50% chance of winning and a 2:1 payoff. The computer decides how much you bet. This is a strange way to gamble.
INCOME TAX--a nuisance which only takes 10% (of net worth!). This is clearly not an income tax.
PAY DAY--just like passing GO except you get ever increasing amounts.
DOOM--all players' holdings except cash decrease in value by 50%.
BOOM--all players' non-cash holdings increase by 50%. BOOM and DOOM make the game very volatile.
DOOM INSURANCE--can be purchased for $300 and will make you immune to DOOM one time.
I am still trying to decide on the value of a game such as Tycoon. It would seem to me that the social impact of digital Tycoon will probably never be as great as the cardboard and paper games like Risk, Monopoly or Scrabble.
STOCK MANAGEMENT, REV. 1.1
Atari Program Exchange (APX)
P.O. Box 3705
Santa Clara, CA 95055
(800) 672-1850 inside California
(800) 538-1862 outside California
Reviewed by Dave Mentley
This well-polished, low-priced recordkeeping program from APX will be very useful to ATARI owners who buy and sell securities for investment or speculation. I've found that this population group is actually quite small, but the Stock Management program is an excellent example of what a home computer can do.
It is, however, fundamentally a reporting program--not a management program. In order to "play" the stock market you need instant information from many sources and you really need personal contact over the phone. For recordkeeping and valuation of your portfolio of stocks though, this program is ideal. It does not handle sophisticated transactions such as "short selling" or options trading, but we are not planning to open a branch of Merrill Lynch with our ATARI either.
The disk comes with a sample data base built by the author, and this makes learning the utility very easy. Actually, a sample data base or data file makes learning any new software package much easier. This program is menu-based to minimize typing and simplify use. One shortcoming (which some may call a feature) is that the author did not disable the [BREAK] key. Two POKEs in BASIC will prevent an accidental [BREAK]. The menu contains six possible selections leading to all of the program subroutines. These items are: (1) Enter New Transactions, (2) Correct Transactions, (3) List All Transactions, (4) Status of Portfolio, (5) Profit or Loss for Single Stock, and (6) Profit or Loss for the Year. In order to enter transactions you should have your brokerage slips by your computer. You will need to enter the stock name, ticker symbol, transaction (BOT, SLD, DIV, etc.) date, exchange (NYSE, AMEX, OTC, etc.), share price, number of shares and the broker's commission. This is a lot of data and this program helps you to get it neatly arranged on your floppy disk instead of in your dresser drawer.
Once you have done the dirty work of entering the data, you can begin to have some fun with the numbers. The only other inputs you need after entering are the daily (or hourly) share prices. Just by changing the price according to the daily paper or your Dow Jones service, you can see in a flash how much your portfolio is worth "on paper" or in this case "in computer". You can produce any of the last three reports listed above just by entering the share price. All reports can be sent to a printer for a hard copy or to the screen if you just want a quick look.
If you feel like turning your stock into cash, just reach for the phone, call your broker and make that transaction real. The beauty of this program is its organizing ability and simplicity.
The Programmers Workshop
5230 Clark Ave., Suite 23
Lakewood, CA 90712
Reviewed by Clark Nobil
Desk Set is a well designed program that thoughtfully combines a daily appointment schedule, perpetual calendar, and card file (mailing list) section. It marks the longawaited entry of business quality software capable of serving either personal or light office needs at a reasonable price. Desk Set is a kind of electronic date book with all the speed, accuracy, and convenience of a computer.
The daily appointment schedule allows you to enter up to 400 separate, daily appointment or "things-to-do today" schedules--each with up to 15 entries per day. The perpetual calendar displays any past, present, or future month. The card file section permits you to store, edit, sort, and print up to 200 names, addresses, phone numbers, and brief messages. Desk Set replaces several smaller mailing list and appointment calendar programs by combining them into a larger, more powerful program with quick access between sections and with some of the sophisticated features found on more expensive data base programs. Numerous prompts guide you at every step to prevent accidental crashing or the need to restart the program.
The program begins with a main menu that asks you whether you want to access the calendar or card file section. If you respond with "calendar," the program requests the month, year, and day and displays the calendar for that month. You may then view the appointment schedule for that day, or go on to the appointment schedule for the previous or next day. When an appointment schedule is selected, the screen displays a schedule with 10 hourly time slots, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and five other slots for extra appointments or important notes. The program allows entry of up to 22 characters for each of the time slots--plenty of room for a name and phone number or short note. At the bottom of this screen, a menu appears which permits you to add or delete an entry, print the appointment schedule, erase any outdated schedules, or return to the main menu.
The card file section of the program accepts up to 200 records with separate fields for name, address, city, state, zip, telephone number (with area code), and a short message. The user can then add, edit, sort, view, or print records. It is, in fact, here in the card file section that the program truly excels with some refreshingly new and original features. If you wish to view records, there are six options in the search mode: number or range of record number, area code, state, zip code, or all. If you want to print these same card file records, you must specify whether the addresses will be printed on labels, envelopes, or in full format.
You can also specify if telephone numbers should be printed, so the card file section actually serves as powerful mini data base with a wide range of printing options. A housewife, for instance, might use this section as a handy place to organize addresses and phone numbers of friends, or print envelopes or labels for holiday cards. A salesman might use the card file section as a place to store business leads or prospects, printing either envelopes or labels as the need arises, even creating a "telephone worksheet" for follow-up calls.
The sort option on the card file menu is also helpful. It permits the automatic realphabetizing of names and renumbering of records so that the last records added can be included in a newly alphabetized, card file listing.
Although it is relatively new, Desk Set is likely to become the standard by which integrated appointment calendar/small mailing list programs are judged in the future. Anyone, especially office workers, who formerly used a date book or appointment calendar but who now want to add the same capability to a home or office computer should find Desk Set a welcome addition. Not surprisingly, the program's eight-page documentation is both clear and concise, enabling you to start putting the program's full potential to work in 20 minutes.
P.M.P. (PROPERTY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM) 2000
T & F Software Co.
10902 Riverside Drive
North Hollywood, CA 91602
Reviewed by Richard DeVore
If you own an ATARI 800 with 48K, a disk drive, an 80-column printer, VisiCalc and some apartment buildings, Bruce Familian of T & F Software Company has developed a set of templates that will allow you to keep track of your property revenues and prepare your rental statements.
P.M.P. 2000 comes as a set of four diskettes in a binder along with a set of clear instructions. The instructions are printed on thick paper and should handle well with extensive use of the program. It also comes with a licensing agreement that you probably should have your lawyer read prior to purchasing the package. It has all the known disclaimers, which may be necessary, but I feel that the manufacturer should warrant the product to do what is claimed rather than warn you that it won't take responsibility.
I must say, in all fairness, that in the one contact that I had with Bruce Familian, he answered all my questions and sent me the new version of the program for this review. My criticism of disclaimers is applicable to any company that uses them, not just T & F.
The instructions lead you step by step through every phase of the program's use. I found a few errors, but nothing that you couldn't catch and compensate for. First, you should duplicate the set of disks to keep the originals safe. It is necessary to make up a set for each apartment building. The programs do not lend themselves to individual house rentals, but could be used for this is you were determined to do so.
Each template is capable of tracking 25 units, and the limit is set by the computer's memory, not the program. Most of the printouts require compressed print and VisiCalc, because the ATARI doesn't directly support many printers. It is set up for the Atari 825 printer (i.e. Centronics 737) and you may have to set your particular printer with BASIC prior to loading VisiCalc and the program. Familiarity with VisiCalc will make the application of this program easier and faster.
Diskette A contains four files. These are: APARTMENT STATUS REPORT, TENANT STATUS REPORT, CASH RECEIPT WORKSHEET and INVOICES. Diskette B and C contain: DISTRIBUTION OF EXPENSES / BANK ACCOUNT STATEMENT. Each disk is able to hold six month's worth. Diskette D has the INCOME / EXPENSE SCHEDULE both by month and YEAR TO DATE.
As in any program, you have to input the necessary information required by each report. The reports are structured to take input values and do the appropriate extensions such as return on investment, current tenant status, and bank balance. They also track expenses on the various units, which is extremely useful. The only thing that is not cross-linked well into previous input is the invoice section. In this format it is necessary to fill in almost all the blanks manually rather than just give it the unit number.
The example given in the instruction manual is for just one unit. I expanded to 25 units and found that the programs function well in larger volume. Any landlord should find P.M.P. 2000 a more than adequate tool for managing his property.
FULL-VIEW 80 DISPLAY CARD
Bit 3 Computer Corporation
8120 Penn Avenue South, Suite 548
Minneapolis, MN 55431
Reviewed by Fred Tedsen
The Full-View 80 is a board that provides an 80-column display for the ATARI 800. It is nicely packaged and comes with a fairly complete manual. Installation is very easy. The board plugs into the third memory slot and a cable with two plugs is routed out the back of the computer. One plug connects a cable to the monitor while the other is plugged into the monitor jack on the side of the ATARI. This allows switching between 40-column and 80-column displays on the same monitor. The monitor must be monochrome. You can, however, leave your TV set or a color monitor connected for color and 40-column displays.
The 80-column display is very readable. Most of the letters are nicely formed, and the lower case letters have full descenders. The ATARI block cursor has been replaced with a blinking underline, which is very easy to find on the screen. If you prefer a block cursor, a control key allows you to toggle between the underline cursor and a block cursor. The ATARI graphics characters are duplicated, though the appearance of some of them are quite different. One of the line-drawing graphic characters is incorrectly formed so that a perfect square cannot be drawn on the screen.
Editing programs is very much the same as standard ATARI 40column editing. There are a few differences that take some getting used to, however. For example, the cursor does not wrap around at the bottom or top of the screen. Instead the screen is scrolled up or down one line. Since this moves a line off the screen, I quickly learned to not do it. A more bothersome feature is that if you make a change in the second line of a multipleline statement, you must move the cursor back to the first line before pressing [RETURN]. This is really not as bad as it first seems since fewer statements take more than one screen line. Bit 3 indicates that they may change this in the future. A really nice added feature is a command that clears the line from the point after the cursor instead of deleting the entire line.
An unpublicized advantage of this board is speed. Listing programs on the screen and printing to the screen is about 30 percent faster on the 80-column screen than the 40-column screen. Additionally, since the FullView 80 does not use the ANTIC chip to handle the display, turning ANTIC off with a POKE 559,0 speeds everything up another 30 percent or so without blanking the screen.
The board works very well with BASIC and with most assemblers. Debuggers, however, do not seem to work in 80column mode. For word processing and file management, the 80column versions of Letter Perfect and Data Perfect are the only compatible products.
Overall, I am very satisfied with the Full-View 80. The support I received from Bit 3 in tracking down problems running programs with the board was outstanding. With dual density drives and now 80-column display, the potential uses of the ATARI are rapidly expanding.
THE BOOKKEEPER KIT
(800) 672-1404 (Calif. only)
$249.95--the Kit (diskette, keypad)
Reviewed by Ronald G. Boyer
The Bookkeeper Kit is Atari's entry in the small-business accounting field. The ATARI computers were never intended as business machines, and this software also has serious limitations. But for a small business, the combination is good enough to use until a true business system is warranted.
Although The Bookkeeper program's documentation is easy to read and explains simple accounting concepts, Atari advises the user to seek professional help when setting up accounts and deciding which accounting method to apply. As a CPA with ten years' experience on in-house minis and micros, as well as with client computers, I concur with this advice. Computers do not anticipate management, tax or financial problems. Nor do they review statements to assure accuracy and completeness. Consultation will still be an annual necessity for all except the smallest operation.
Full use of The Bookkeeper requires 48K, a printer, and one disk drive. System capacity is limited by small disks. The Bookkeeper can handle up to 1000 transactions per month (or posting period) but only a total of 350 different account numbers, plus customer numbers, plus vendor numbers. It does not support PERCOM's double-density mode, but singledensity works fine.
Functionality: The Bookkeeper offers a well-documented, easyto-use, double-entry accounting package. Statement formats and department structures have been integrated into the chart of accounts numbering system. The system can produce ten departmentalized profit and loss statements which are then combined into a consolidated statement. Department statements show profit and loss only. The chart of accounts is flexible enough for most applications.
The Bookkeeper will, in addition to the normal financial statements, provide lists of customers, vendors, checks written, cash received, invoices written, and general journal entries. It also will produce general ledgers, accounts recelvable and accounts payable ledgers. The accounts receivable and accounts payable ledgers are not "aged," however.
The system does not collect employee data. This is a serious oversight since collecting data for quarterly tax returns is one of the functions best handled by a computerized accounting system, and is a feature included in programs for other microcomputers. Certainly, one of the greatest burdens for any small business is maintenance and filing of employee tax records.
The general ledger includes descriptions of each transaction, for example, check payee. That makes the general ledger much more valuable for analyzing account variances in the accounting period. The system allows 13 account entries per check and ten per journal entry--sufficient for most needs. A generous number of comment lines are available.
The profit and loss statement has columns for current period, year-todate amounts, and percentage analysis; but the system cannot compare actual amounts to budgeted, or to prior year figures. This is a serious drawback.
Customer lists include only names and addresses; no monthly or year-todate sales data are presented. The system will not issue invoices or monthly statements. Statements must be hand typed from accounts receivable listings--an inexplicable ommission.
The Bookkeeper performs some accounts payable functions and allows the user to record checks. It does not, however, print checks. Worse, it will not keep or balance a checkbook.
Usability: The system is easy to understand and learn. This is no small feat given the complexity of the subject matter.
The complete package, marketed as The Bookkeeper Kit, includes a piece of hardware that everyone who has tried to use the ATARI in business has missed--a ten-key pad! The pad plugs into Port Two. It includes all numerics, return, escape, delete, Y (for yes), N (for no), period, a plus, and minus keys. All of these are needed for entering data into the program. It is a major step forward.
Unfortunately, the key pad is now usable only with The Bookkeeper. All of us who know the ten-key finger patterns have greatly missed this important piece of equipment. Atari customer service says the company is working on a program that will make the pad usable with other programs.
One serious complaint about the usability is that The Bookkeeper does not allow multiple disk drives. This means that the user often must swap the data disk and the program disk, when a function change is needed. Since most business users have at least two drives, this is an irritating and unnecessary limitation.
The system does not allow fullscreen editing during data entry, but simply skipping through the fields using the return key permits moderately efficient correction of input data.
Reliability: Overall, The Bookkeeper performs as specified in the documentation and in the advertising brochures. Be careful; this system is only for the small business. There is not enough storage capacity for anything approaching a "medium-size" business.
If you are interested in this product, you should know about the flaw in the data-entry mode which necessitates saving data often: after entering data and pressing [RETURN] to complete a transaction, a second [RETURN] will crash the program and lose all data not previously saved. Recovery requires restarting the system.
Performance: The program loads slowly. Disks must be constantly switched, because the program only uses one disk drive.
On the plus side, the system avoids repetition of names by assigning numbers to vendors and customers.
Documentation: The documentation is excellent. It is complete, wellwritten, and includes a comprehensive example on a data disk. This gives the user experience and confidence that the process will work. Although the section dealing with accounting and bookkeeping concepts is also wellwritten, it will not replace formal education on accounting methods or tax laws. File layouts are not documented. Therefore, the user will not be able to easily interface The Bookkeeper to user-written programs.
Summary: Atari has produced a usable accounting package with good documentation
and packaging. The Bookkeeper does have some shortcomings which could be
eliminated with some simple programming changes. I still recommend it for
the small retail or professional business with few employees. The program
will not replace competent professional help for accounting and tax needs,
but could substantially reduce fees an accountant would charge to plod through
unorganized records. The program could also be useful to a person performing
bookkeeping "writeup" services for a relatively small number of
clients out of his/her home/office.