80-Bus News


March–April 1983 · Volume 2 · Issue 2

Page 49 of 55

which has only recently come to light. I know this affects all SYSB versions from SYSB11 onwards, although it was correct in versions up to SYSN7 for the Henelec/​Gemini GM805 system (I haven’t got copies of the earlier versions so it may or may not be relevant). Now to allow the CBIOS to cope with spooler type software CP/M 2.2 allows a call to the LST: device status to be made whilst polling the keyboard to check if the LST: device is ready to accept further data. In this way a file can be shoved out to the printer whilst keyboard input is taking place. Hence allowing printer despooling to take place. If the LST: status is busy then no printer action can take place. SYS of course allows this with a separate LST: status routine, unfortunately by an oversight, it checks both serial and parallel routines together and if either is busy it reports busy. Now most users don’t have two printers attached so it is likely that either the serial or parallel output will be floating. By the fact that it’s floating, it could either return busy or not busy as it feels, Murphy’s Law says it will return busy, so the likelihood is that spooler operation will be either erratic or non existence, depending … No-one has reported this, but I feel that several people have tried and wondered what is wrong with their despooling software and then given up, alternatively if they have tried their despooling software under Gemini’s CP/Ms they should have had no problem. In SYSB15 and SYSB16 a simple change to the end of module SYSB5 will cure this problem and is listed as program 3. Whilst on the subject of SYS, SYS fetishists may be upset to know that SYSB16.1 already exists. If you have SYSB15 don’t worry, SYSB16 only incorporated a printer margin facility and a software tidy up, whilst SYSB16.1 fixes the aforementioned ‘feature’. [Late insert: Richard tells me SYSB17 is on the way with a reported bug in the extended screen edit routine fixed.]

Super Diskpen.

Another ‘feature’ built in to the response to an advert in the last issue regards the new Super Diskpen – those who ordered it didn’t get any documentation!!! Not too disastrous for those who know how to drive PEN, or those who discovered what the ‘?’ and ‘??’ commands do. However, documentation was promised and the advertiser had a file of names and addresses of those who had purchased PEN for the purposes of sending on the documentation. Don’t ask me how it happened, but the file has got lost. So if you’re sitting there staring at a PEN command line and wondering what to do next drop the advertiser a line and let him know your name and address.

Another command in DISKPEN/​GEMPEN version 3 is the ‘&’ command. Some late versions may have been supplied with an overlay called MENU.OVL, and you may be wondering what this is for. When the ‘&’ command is fired up, the menu tells you about a spooling device which allows PEN to have an intelligent printer despooling function built in. This is the first of the PEN overlays which are becoming available, and incedently, how the funny in the spooling software in SYS came to light.

A second overlay for PEN has just been sent to me for evaluation and this one is really clever. It gives PEN the ability to function as a free field data handler. A sort of mini-database controller which whilst not as powerful as the big business type database controllers has a number of advantages over the way the data is formatted, and like all PEN ‘bolt-on’ goodies, it is cheap. About one twentieth the price of dBASE II for instance for about one quarter the power. If you are worrying about not having MENU.OVL – don’t!! When a new overlay program is purchased a new MENU.OVL is supplied with it covering all the previous issues. But don’t forget that these overlays can only be used with version 3 of PEN, and the signon will be VG:3x, VN:3x or VS:3x, where x is the type of printer output configured.

A User Group.

Now onto news about a computing club, the Nascom – Thames User Group, or words to that effect that they somehow abbreviate to NAS-TUG. They meet every

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