Scor­pio News


October–December 1987 – Volume 1. Issue 4.

Page 39 of 55

that many of the cleverer aspects of OS/2 won’t get implemented for some considerable time. Of course, the software houses will change their minds when there are enough of the new IBM machines around to make it worth their while.

Remember, on of the over-riding reasons for the ‘open’ architecture of the original IBM machines was to encourage writers to adopt MS-DOS as the then ‘new’ standard. A very successful ploy it was to. This time the new machines use a ‘closed’ architecture, so the incentive for change does not exist to the degree it existed in 1982. It’s a nice ‘Catch 22’ situation which many computer manufacturers’ have found themselves in before. Software houses won’t write the software for a mew machine as there aren’t enough of the new machines to make it worth it; on the other hand, customers wont buy the new machine as there is insufficient software about to make the machine viable. In this instance, the situation isn’t as clear cut, as the old software standards are applicable, but the incentive is missing.

Next the micro-channel BUS architecture is a clever idea, but the user base of older machines will ensure that add-ons and bits will remain available, certainly during the projected life of my machine, and the benefits of speed brought about be the new BUS don’ seem to be that great. I haven’t seen any comparative timings yet, but the implication is that a 10 or 12 MHz clone is equally as fast as all but the fastest of IBM’s new toys, and anyway, speed isn’t everything.

What about the changes in disk format and the inclusion of optical disk. So with a bit of ingenuity existing machines will soon be able to handls the new 3½″ format, fit new box of drives, a new controller card and a DRIVER.SYS patched into DOS and away it goes (older 3½″ formats will have to do the same, the Apricot XENi, the RML Nimbus, etc. were based on the older IBM 720K format and the drives aren’t up to it). And as for optical disk, what’s new in that? I’ve been playing with 5¼″ WORMs for some months now and mine are 400 MByte per side not 100 Mbyte per side as proposed (but not yet available) from IBM. Interest will perk up when it comes to erasable read/​write optical disks, but these are only just becoming available and it will be some time before they are a viable proposition for ‘everyday’ use.

Whilst passing optical disks, can I get on one of my hobby horses. People keep referring to ‘5¼″’ optical disks. This is historical, it’s also wrong! 5¼″ floppy disks are 5.25″ square, and if you take the magnetic disk out of a floppy disk you’ll find it to close 5.125″ in diameter, as close to 5.25″ as makes no difference. But unlike floppy disks, where a floppy disk is a floppy disk regardless of capacity, people seem to equate the diameter of an optical disk directly with its capacity.

To that end, then, people should be more precise about the actual size of the disks themselves. A 5¼″ optical disk it NOT 5.25″ in diameter, it’s actually 125mm, that’s as near as damn it 4.75″. A 12″ optical disk is 12″ in diameter and the funny Kodak ones arc actually 14″ in diameter. (I haven’t laid hands on one of the 8″ optical disks yet to actually measure it.) When people refer to floppy dist drive (which is a shade under 6″ anyway)! Oh well I suppose I can keep banging my head against a brick wall, it’s so nice and peaceful whee I stop!!

Something Completely Different ?

And now, for something completely different. (Yes, I had noticed that they’ve been re-running Monty Python on the box.) The upgrade from dBASE II to dBASE III and dBASE III Plus. (From now on I’m going to call them DB, where I mean any version of dBASE, and DBII, DBIII and DBIII+ to be specific.)

As you are no doubt painfully aware, I tend to concentrate my programming expertise into database management using the Ashton-Tate DB products. Now why those in particular? I don’t think I’ve ever justified my thinking on those lines, so let’s have a look at that first.

There are database managers and Database Managers, in fact an awful lot of them these days,​and over the years I’ve had a look of a good few. I’ve had time enough and seen enough to postulate ‘Dave’s Law of Database Management’, that is: “Mickey Mouse database managers offer Mickey Mouse facilities, whilst big heavy OTT database managers require a PhD to run them”. Now I like Mickey Mouse, he’s funny little cartoon character and in many ways quite bright, but I think we can be fairly sure of one fact, he doesn’t know a lot about database management.

Page 39 of 55