80-Bus News


January–February 1983 · Volume 2 · Issue 1

Page 13 of 56

The Dave Hunt Page(s)

This issue, the DH bit is going to be a hoch poch of bits and pieces, I did have a theme, but since thinking of this episodes’ theme Paul has landed me with a load of letters and odd bits to chew through. If I actually get round to my final theme you will see that none of the previous bits fall comfortably into it so everything is going to get split in to small sections ‘a la’ Dr. Dark. Gone also is the turgid writing style of the last three issues. Not that anyone has complained, it’s just that I can’t write as fast when suffering from an acute case of ‘Esoteric Verbal Grandilogence’. So back comes the chatty nerve jarring style with those apalling puns that I sometimes throw in.

On the software front, that I have been to a lesser or greater extent involved in, are two interesting developments. Firstly, Richard, having recovered from his holiday on some exotic island, returned refreshed and brimming with new ideas. Those devotees of his versatile SYS overlay BIOS program should note that it has been subject to some Frankenstien type surgery and a new monster saw daylight sometime around the end of January. This is based on an idea that has plagued production CP/Ms because of the number of permutations of soft-/hard-ware configurations available. This has led to a number of different versions of CP/M for sale for Nascom, Gemini and Nascom/​Gemini hybrids, and an even larger number of permutations not catered for. Richard hopes to have solved virtually all permutation problems between Nascom and Gemini CP/M machines in one fell swoop, throwing in hard disk and 8″ compatibility into the bargain. All this in addition to handling a virtual disk option using either Nascom 48K, Gemini 64K or MAP 256K RAM cards. Those with 48 t.p.i. drives will also be able to enjoy full compatibility with SuperBrain and limited compatibility with Cromenco, RML, Osbourne and Xerox.

The second development is a major redesign of Diskpen/​GEMPEN, amongst other things making versions available for SuperBrain and the Mimi. The whole thing has been redesigned internally, although preserving the existing way in which it works and the main command keys. Peter has been busy on the major extension to allow ’PEN to handle overlay files internally, and to provide access to all the major internal routines through a jump table. This started out as the experimental addition of a HELP facility, where the HELP text would be overlayed onto the screen, but took on a whole different light as soon as it was realised that if space was allowed for help overlays, the space could also be allocated to other things. One of the problems with ‘PEN has been the lack of a Despool type facility where ‘PEN would background print a file whilst another was being typed. Personally I can’t stand the noise of the printer running whilst I’m typing, but other people seem to think this important. Some of the other features envisaged are to incorporate my little Multiformat multiple column printing utility which is ideal for price lists etc; overlays for the use of true proportional printing daisy wheel printers such as the Qume and Diablo; multiple index facilities; and a whole lot more. How many of the proposed overlays will see the light of day remains to be seen. The list grows longer daily. The new ’PEN manual (which I have yet to write) will contain all the competent machine code programmer will require to write his own overlays, so when the new ’PEN becomes available, sometime March – April, I rather hope that people will start to write and publish their own overlays. Remember that a major part of the philosophy of ’PEN has been that it is cheap, and with that is mind, upgrade ’PENs with a modest assortment of overlays will be available at a charge of £10.00 – £15.00 on production of the original disk. This upgrade will be available from Henry’s and Amersham Computer Centre, and other Microvalue dealers should they wish to participate.

So on to the pile of letters and odds and sods which I have been given. Some have listings, and as our policy is to pay per page printed, and that listings represent a lot of empty space, we have taken to squashing listings from A4 to A5 getting two pages onto one. So as to allow us to fit things together sensibly when the time comes to print this lot out, all listings have been lumped together and referred to by the author.

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