Scor­pio News


October–December 1987 – Volume 1. Issue 4.

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Software Reviews

by Robert Pearce

Following my letter to the Editor (see the letters’ pages), I have been asked to scrawl a few words regarding a couple of software packages.

Review of Scorpio Systems SVC-03 Disk

I thought I should start with this one as it’s already available, and also it was this disk that got me into this in the first place. In all honesty I have to say that the main reason I bought it was that I was considering writing a PCB design package of my own and had not got started yet.

With the last issue of Scorpio News, Scorpio offered three disks with software specifically for systems fitted with Gemini GM832 SVC video boards. There are in fact really only two disks, the third one (SVC-03) being the first two disks combined onto one disk – follow that?

SVC-01 contains:

SDRAW, a drawing package
TIME, for setting/​displaying the GM888 board’s RTC
PTIME, for displaying the GM816 or GM822 boards’ RTCs
NCG, a new character set for the SVC
PCB, a simple PCB design package

SVC-02 contains:

MLINKS, the source code that adds SVC graphic commands to MBASIC

I shall start with SDRAW, the picture drawing package, which is the only one of the “5 plus” programs which does not have the source code supplied. Overall I was quite impressed by this program. All the usual facilities are provided in easy to use form with a very flash online help system. Cursor movement is designed for an anonymous keyboard (i.e. it can be used without cursor keys, using the “Wordstar diamond”) but the standard Gemini cursor codes also work in most (but not all) cases. One of the cases where they do not work is in text mode. This uses the standard SVC character wring routine with the resulting restriction that text cannot be placed exactly where you want it, only on a 32 * 25 grid (the usual one). Another slight niggle is the way text mode always enters at top left rather than where the cursor is.

Facilities are, provided for printer dump to an Epson compatible printer in two sizes. The big size, unfortunately, does not quite fit so the left and right edges (8 pixels each) are cut off. The print page also allows you to print out the current cursor co-ordinate, through why you should want to I don’t quite know. Screens can also be saved to or read from disk files, which are compatible with those used by MLINKS.

The circle drawing routine understands Pythagoras, so the direction in which you define the radius is not important. There is, however, no way to remove an unwanted circle, which is perhaps even more annoying because such a facility is provided for the fill option. The fill option supports 12 patterns. Solid fill is rather quicker than the rest (presumably it uses the SVC internal routine) but all perform a proper flood fill. The help page shows four extra undefined fill patterns but these appear to be a mistake on the belp file.

All in all this is quite a good product and the niggles are generally minor.

I could not test the two time programs as I don’t have a real time clock fitted, but there can’t be much wrong with them!

The new character set program is also pretty straight forward. The character set it gives is faster than the default and is of a style which seems quite popular, particularly in high resolution character generators. I personally think it looks disgusting on an SVC but is just personal taste. Anyway, the characters are easily re-defined if you want to.

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