Juggler, Turbo ST, Analyze, Flight Scenery
One thing the ST has really needed is a switching program that lets you move between two or more programs without constantly saving your work, loading the next program, looking up the information, reloading the old program, reloading the old file, etc. However, here's the problem with this kind of utility--some programs use GEM, some don't. Also, some GEM programs are structured poorly.
The first version of Juggler was compatible with very few GEM-based programs. The Juggler II, however, partitions RAM. Both programs are on the disk you get with The Juggler.
Juggler II is far superior to Juggler. When you boot your system with an auto folder, the first thing that happens is that your system boot is aborted. If you have a megabyte or more internal memory, the program will ask if you want to partition RAM into two, four or eight equal sections. (On a 520ST, the program automatically chooses two sections.) The system reconfigures, and when booted up, you enter the first partition. To boot the second, and subsequent partitions, you simply press [ALTERNATE][LEFT-SHIFT] once for each section.
Into the first partition you load the first program you want to work with. When you need to run another program, press [ALTERNATE] [LEFT- SHIFT]. After the screen dims and then brightens, load the second program and run it as usual. To start juggling between the two programs, cycle through the partitions by using the [ALTERNATE] [LEFT-SHIFT] command.
Since one of the major problems hindering compatibility with Juggler II is poorly constructed GEM programs, the manual contains a special section dedicated to GEM programmers. It reviews some of the rules about memory and windows in GEM to help you develop standardized applications.
The manual lists almost 50 programs that Juggler II works with, along with the problems you might encounter. It also lists a number of programs you can't use with Juggler II, such as GFA BASIC and NEOchrome. Frankly, if you own a 520ST there's no point in using Juggler II--each partition will have less than 256K memory available and you'll have virtually no room in which to work.
However, if you have a megabyte or more of memory, then you could find Juggler indispensable. It won't fulfill all your needs, but it will give you the freedom to move within several projects without the headache of constantly swapping the same disks and loading and reloading the same files. TONY LOVELL
$49.95, color or monochrome. MichTron 576 South Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053. (313) 332-5452.
One of the most requested ST enhancements is for increased speed of the GEM operating environment. Atari's long-promised blitter chip is touted as a solution, but for the immediate future it will probably only be available on the new Mega models.
Instead of waiting for new hardware, why not speed up the existing software? That's the approach taken by Turbo ST, a program which acts as a "software blitter." Taking over the text display routines from GEM, Turbo ST can speed up virtually all ST application software using screen text. Word processors, spreadsheets, databases and many other programs can run two to three times faster than normal---in some cases even faster than with the hardware blitter chip itself.
Turbo ST comes as an unprotected, standard desk accessory to be copied into the root directory of your boot disk. To use it, simply click on "Turbo ST" from the DESK command menu. A dialog box appears with an install button. Click on it, and you're in high gear. A subsequent call to the desk accessory lets you turn it off and resume normal operating mode. The program is compatible with all screen resolutions and ST models, including the Megas.
The program works by intercepting calls to GEM routines for text display and screen clear or scroll and subroututing its own routines. The new routines were written in 68000 assembly language, optimized for speed, which are more efficient than the native GEM code. Both standard GEM programs (.PRG) as well as TOS programs (such as ST Writer) are supported.
Only the text screen display routines are supplanted, so other aspects of application programs--such as graphics or handling peripherals--will operate at normal speed. The overall speed increase for any program depends on how much it deals with screen text displays. Turbo ST cannot speed up application programs which bypass GEM for their own custom display routines, such as Word Perfect.
.How much faster do programs work under Turbo ST? For starters, the scrolling speed of ST Writer is doubled. Other examples tested by the developers showed a 50% paging speed increase with dBMan, 40% for GFA BASIC and 80% for Final Word. Speed improvement is also a function of the monitor resolution. Color displays are typically faster than monochrome.
A text file on the program disk lists the few programs that have incompatibility problems with Turbo ST. Most of these are due to illegal operating systems calls used by some public domain programs.
I highly recommend Turbo ST and consider it a contender for the ST product of the year. It works well, requires no user supervision and is very affordable. In addition, SofTrek is currently working on upgrades which would provide auto installation and the ability to speed up displays using custom screen fonts. Do yourself a favor--buy Turbo ST and say goodbye to the no-blitter blues.--JIM PIERSON-PERRY
$49.95, color or monochrome. SofTrek, P.O. Box 5257, Winter Park, FL 32793. (407) 657-4611.
Analyze makes many other ST programs look amateurish in execution and marketing. It isn't copyprotected and costs a paltry $139.95--or less. (Horizon Computers in Denver is running a $100 discount as I write.) Yet it does more than the famous Lotus 1-2-3. (For instance, an unmodified Lotus won't make 3-D graphs or comparison charts.) I find Analyze quicker and simpler than VIP professional, the Lotus clone for ST. Analyze is cheaper than either one. And it's also disgustingly easy to use!
Analyze reads and writes Lotus 1-2-3 files just like VIP does. If you take your work home, this means you'll need to keep your IBM files on 3 1/2 inch disks, or connect a 5 1/4 inch disk drive to your ST.
My wife knows all the ins and outs of Lotus. So when she sat down with Analyze and whipped off several pages of spreadsheet, then flipped to charts and graphs in only a couple of moments, I attributed it to her Lotus training. However, when I test drove Analyze, I ignored the documenmtion on first run (a good way to see how friendly a program is) and was delighted to discover that GEM's pointers and windows are used extensively. I took longer than she did, but I also had a spreadsheet and graph up and running in minutes--and even printed it.
Then I opened the documentation and found that the 235-page book was written in understandable English. The two tutorials consist of a beginner's section (for me) and an advanced one (for everyone else). The manual does everything short of springing off its earn pages to embrace and comfort you. But the index, though complete, is one page off at times. (According to the index, "Worksheet Archive" commands are on page 154. They're actually on page 153.)
The speed of this program is blinding. I've become sick of spreadsheets and I usually delegate them to my staff. But if only the Air Force would stock up on STs, I'd never pass by a chance to practice with Analyze. In fact, the only problem I've found is that the printer I use (Gemini 10-X) doesn't get along with Analyze's graph printing. There are simple instructions for creating your own printer driver, but it would have been nice to have additional complete printer drivers available.
CompuServe sysop Steve Pagliarulo's Florida company, Micro-Systems, provides great support, including a BBS with two lines.-- CHESTER COX
$139.95, color or monochrome. MicroSystems, 12798 W. Forest Hills Blvd., Suite 202, West Palm Beach, FL 33414. (305) 790-0772.
WESTERN EUROPEAN TOUR
The new Western European Tour ST scenery disk for Sublogic's Flight Simulator II is a winner. Since the package arrived at Antic, staff members have logged more flight hours over Europe than Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker and Snoopy.
Aided by a few staff members who have visited Europe, we "flew" our 1040ST over the Thames and between the towers of London's Tower Bridge. Turning south, we circled Stonehenge, crossed the English Channel, buzzed the Eiffel Tower and flew through the Arc de Triomphe upside down.
The scenery disk covers northern France, southern West Germany and southern United Kingdom. The package includes a "Close-up" map of each of the areas (approx. 30 miles to the inch) and an overall map (approx. 300 miles per inch) covering from Spain to the USSR. These maps show coastlines, rivers, airports and the position of radio navigation stations. No airports or radio navigation stations are shown for any locations east of the Iron Curtain--just coastlines.
Unfortunately, these are the only tools you have to find Moscow and land in Red Square, the object of SubLogic's newest contest, "Find Red Square." To be eligible, you must land in Red Square (a la Mathias Rust, the West German daredevil) and submit its exact coordinates to SubLogic. A randomly-selected winner will recieve a trip to Europe and a $1,000 cash prize. Two months into the contest, SubLogic had recieved more than 1,000 correct entries. Closing date is November 15, 1988.
"We originally considered having the contestants fly through the Arc de Triomphe -- with the winner getting an official citation from the Paris Police Department," said Deborah Isreal, SubLogic's Director of Promotion, "but after Mathias Rust landed in Red Square, we thought it would be more fun for the contestants to land there, too."
After nearly two days in Soviet air-space, a band of intrepid Antic editors glanced up from their "World Almanac" map of Europe, and saw an unusual looking piece of landscape. A closer inspection revealed a river, a strangely shaped gray wall, and a large red square.
After everyone groaned a bit, we noted our position coordinates and flew to Paris for a much-needed rest along the Seine.-CHARLES JACKSON
(ST Flight Simulator pilots: See the review of Microsoft's ustiful $9.95 book Flight Simulator Co-Pilot in this issue's 8-bit Product Reviews-ANTIC ED
$24.95, color. SubLogic Corporation, P.O. Box 4019, Champaign, 61820. (800) 637-4983. (Requires Flight Simulator II software)