it? The magazine specs of machines are confusing, the prices seem to vary by
about 25% for essentially the sane things, and if you want to actually see one
and try it out for an hour of two, you try and find someone who will actually
show you one BEFORE you hand over the money.
I even tried a couple of the proprietary computer shops, who did know something
about business software, but ware amazed that I actually wanted a machine of
this sort to actually USE. They knew naff all about what actually went on
inside the machine; one lot were adamant that the processor inside an AT was
actually an 8088, otherwise how could it be IBM compatible?
Just after Christmas there was a very twee but informative Channel 4 programme
called ‘What They Don’t Tell You When You Buy a Computer’. I found the program
amusing, but heaven help the ordinary punter. I subsequently found most of the
programme true, and I’m supposed to know what I’m talking about! In the end the
new machine came from one of my old employer’ suppliers. At least I knew who
to throw it at if it didn’t work. In the event, it’s all of three weeks old and
hasn’t hiccupped once (yet).
Despite the high speed of this machine, 10MHz clock speed with zero wait states
(compared with the ‘cooking’ IBM AT’s speed of 6MHz with one wait state, the new
machine is actually just over twice as fast as an ordinary AT), and despite the
35mS latency on the 20M byte disk drive, I’ve had only one problem with
software. The mags are all muttering about these high speed, so called ‘Turbo’
machines having problems with certain software. I’ve only found one and that
was loading my Clipper dBASE compiler. I had to fit a ‘Go Slower’ switch to
bring the thing down to normal speed because there seemed to be some hardware
timing in the software protection. A software protection, incidentally, I have
found exceedingly difficult to crack, I’ve no idea what they do to the disk, but
I can’t copy it!
So what have I done with it, well, I’ve written a cataloguing program (I
couldn’t find a half decent one anywhere), you’ll find CAT in the MS-DOS
download area of the CBBSLW bulletin board. I have revamped my address finder
(I’ll be up-loading that to CBBSLW shortly), my radio log book has been
rewritten from end to end, and for fun and the practice, I’ve tried to
assemble CRCK5 into 8086 code without a lot of success, using the 80TO86 program
and then hacking from there. Funny, I can only find an MS-DOS version of CRCK4
on the public domain bulletin boards.
Include Clone info?
Somewhere else in this mag, you’ll find a letter from me suggesting an IBM spot
in future issues. I’ve no idea how that will go down, but if it’s well
received, it’ll certainly give me lots of scope for writing about the
intricacies of dBASE III Plus (twice as complicated and therefore twice as messy
as dBASE II), what to look for in an IBM clone and what to avoid, driving the
more doubtful of the MS-DOS utilities, what I’ve discovered inside MS-DOS and
lots of other nutty goodies. All things I’ve learned the hard way over the last
few month. Or perhaps a series on learning Modula-2, a language I’ve got to
learn for the next job coming up at work.
Lastly, on the score of changing allegiance, I note that NASTUG, that ex-Windsor
based Nascom Users’ Clun and bastion of the Nascom/Gemini cause, has recently
changed emphasis, and whilst still supporting Nascom/Gemini/Map, recently had a
meeting to decide the future of the club. They recognize that a majority of the
membership now use different machines although they also elected to retain the
NASTUG. The venue haw also changed and the club has been put on to a more
substantial footing with an actual published programme! They now meet on
alternate Thursdays at the Crown & Treaty, ______ ____, Uxbridge. For further
details see the
article on NASTUG on page 15.