December 1988 MAGazine Volume 4 Number 12

Table Of Contents

Calendar of Events for December

Saturday, December 10, 1988 - 1:00 PM - The general meeting will be held in Jenning's Hall in Room J-2. Located on the campus of State Technical Institute of Memphis.

SEE YOU THERE!!

ELECTIONS

Here it is December already. Next month of course is January and what does January bring? ELECTIONS! That dreaded time of year when you might get nominated for an office and have to serve. Would it be all that bad? After all what are you giving up some boob tube time. There are benefits, believe it or not, what are these benefits you say, well it depends on the office. One benefit that all officers share is the chance to have a say in what happens in our club. A voice in the direction we take in the new year.

If nobody volunteers than we will have to take nominations from the floor. If these nominees decline to serve than where are we? Without a club. We all derive some measure of pleasure from the club or we wouldn't belong.

As one of the out going officers I will be glad to help the new officers in any way possible. I know I speak for my fellow officers as well, when I say good luck whoever you may be.

Editor/ED

ART CONTEST

The deadline for the Art contest will be pushed back one month to give some of the members a chance to get there entries in. Me being one of them. What with the newsletter and my mother being in the hospital I haven't had a chance to finish my entry. So in January along with voting for new officers you'll have to pick a winner in the art contest......

Editor/ED

AMIGAS SIGHTED!

Recently, on MTV and VH-1, Commodore has been running several commercials for the Amiga. I've seen at least three variations. All end with the invitation for the viewer to call a toll-free number and find out about a special offer for a free video recorder with the purchase of a "Fast-Forward" Amiga system. The Fast-Forward system includes an Amiga 500, 1084s monitor, and about $400 worth of software (Money Mentor, Textcraft Plus, Graphics Studio, Marble Madness, and TV-Text). The free VCR is a 2 head HQ machine with wireless remote. The price may vary from dealer to dealer but one local dealer quoted the package as selling for $1495.

MAGazine

MAGazine
Memphis Amiga Group
Box 381462
Memphis, TN 38183-1462

MAGazine is published monthly by the Memphis Amiga Group (MAG), a nonprofit organization offering assistance to fellow Amiga owners and those interested in the Amiga. Membership in the Memphis Amiga Group is available for an annual fee of $20 per family. Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1988 are:

President
Dr. Alan Schwartz
(901) 755-6622

Vice President
Todd Rooks
(901) 373-0198

Secretary/Treasurer
Scott Hudson
(901) 794-8914

Librarian
David Head
(901) 377-7568

MAGazine Editor
Edward Bilson
(901) 794-2936

WELCOME

David Spain
Chris Cook
Dasisy Branan

MORE THAN RUMOR

Opinion by The Unknown Amigoid

Well the 1988 Fall COMDEX is over and Commodore apparently did itself proud. Unlike most of its competitors, Commodore used its booth to promote products currently available or about to be released. So many computer and software manufacturers these days are churning out more press releases about vaporware than actual product. Formal announcements about the A2500 (14.3 MHz, 68020 CPU) and the A2000HD were handed out. Commodore did preview to dealers and developers some products still a long way off from release. Among these were the Professional Video Adapter (a fast real-time frame grabber), an 80286 PC AT Bridgeboard, a Hi-Res (1024x1024) Color Graphics Card for the A2000, and an Amiga-based Transputer Parallel Processing Helios Workstation.

I just got my December issue of Byte and it features a special section on the Mackintosh. The cover story is the preview of Apple's new Mac IIx, announced last September. The IIx is a 16MHz 68030 CPU, 68882 math coprocessor machine with new 3.5 inch floppy disk drive controller and software that allow it to read and write MS DOS disks. It comes standard with 4 megabytes of RAM and costs around $7800.00 (without a hard disk). The brief article seems a fair review of some of the machine's features but it points out that there is only about a 15% throughput advantage over the older Mac II despite the improved CPU and FPU chips.

As is my custom, though, whenever I receive a new Byte, I first turn to Jerry Pournelle's column. Jerry is the man that long-time Amiga owners love to hate. This month, however, Jerry had some kind words to say about the Amiga. He even compared it favorably to the Mac, saying "... the Amiga is a powerful multitasking machine ... Unlike the Mackintosh, which is easy to use but limited in what it can do ...." He even commented that the Amiga "deserves more time than I've been willing to give it" and that regarding any problems he may have had with Amigas, "... part of the difficulty is me." Any Amiga fan who has been following Mr. Pournelle's writings about the machine might be surprised by this sudden change of opinion, if they didn't know that Commodore, after first offering to sell an Amiga to Jerry when he asked them for one (Jerry was reportedly insulted), has finally given one of their newest Amigas to the Pournelle household. The new Amiga is apparently one of the A2500 series with the 68020 board. Jerry wasn't too explicit about the hardware he had been given. He did mention that Commodore had to send Andy Finkel out to set it up for him. He went on to talk about Flicker Fixer, Deluxe Paint II, Deluxe Productions, The Bridgeboard, Rocket Man, and Dungeon Master. He generally praised them all calling the Amiga "a fascinating machine" and "the greatest games machine in existence." Of course he couldn't help but throw in the undeserved dig, "AmigaDOS, while powerful, has some odd quirks." Apparently by the end of the article he had forgotten his earlier statement that he was at least part of all his problems. His fundamental ignorance of the Amiga was quite obvious midway through the article when he called the Workbench disk a Kickstart disk.

Also in the December Byte was a brief announcement of the new Space-Graph Display System. This new three-dimensional image display apparatus from BBN Laboratories uses a unique method to oscillate a 16 inch parabolic mirror between its concave and convex limits and produce a 3-D effect which requires no special glasses. The 150 pound unit's display area is about 10 inches cubed and offers a 30 degree range of view. The system aimed at CAD users costs about $30,000.00. In this month's Sentry magazine, there was a good review of CMI's Processor Accelerator. This small circuit board fits in your Amiga's 68000 socket and replaces your 8 MHz chip, which runs at 7.14 MHz, with a 16 MHz chip running at 14.28 MHz. The board also includes a socket for a 68881 math coprocessor. The board is cheap enough, only $200, but like the new MAC IIx mentioned earlier, the use of a faster MPU only produces about 2 to 20% (depending on the application) improvement in overall speed. (I seem to recall about the same rate of improvement claimed from simply installing a 68010 chip in the Amiga. And a 68010 can be had for less than $20 mail order! Perhaps someone with a 68010 already installed would like to run the same tests reported in The Sentry and let us know the results?) Still, if you're interested in turbo-charging your spreadsheet calculations and you can't afford the $800 and up required for a 68020 board, you light want to look into this one. You can contact: Creative Microsystems Inc., 10110 S.W. Nimbus, Suite B1, Portland, OR 97223, (503) 620-3821. The card can be fitted into an A500, A1000, or A2000.

Also reviewed in Sentry was ProScript, a utility which converts ProWrite documents to PostScript format for outputting on a laser printer. They made it sound quite useful for those who use ProWrite, TextCraft or Scribble (the only documents that ProScript knows how to translate), but it would have sounded a whole lot better if the folks at Hew Horizons had included translators for other word processors, especially Word Perfect.

I got a flyer the other day from the folks who sponsor the AmiEXPO fairs. It was an announcement of something called AmiFORUM. Apparently its a combination exhibition and Amiga college. The exhibition part promises something like the regular AmiEXPO, with about 40 developers and dealers participating. The part they call "Master Classes" offers Jim Sachs teaching Amiga graphics, Steve Segal teaching Amiga animation techniques, Eric Lavitsky teaching C, and Cal Vornberger discussing video techniques. Admission to the exhibit hall is $10 for one day, $15 for two. Classes are limited to 40 per class and cost $50 each. The show runs from Saturday, January 14th through Sunday, January 15th, 8 am to 4 pm each day, at the Hyatt Orlando Hotel in Kissimmee, Florida near DisneyWorld. Call 1-800-322-6442 before January 11, 1989 for reservations.

If you are not already a GEnie member, you can use take advantage of a special offer to Amiga owners. By using a special ID number when you call with your modem, the usual $29.95 GEnie sign-up fee will be waived. This special Amiga offer will expire on December 31, 1988. Here's how:

GEnie is avaliable throughout the country. Evening rates (6 PM - 7 AM) are $5 per hour at eigher 1200 or 300 baud.

Here's a rumor that has many of the services buzzing. Supposedly, Commodore and Motorola are working together on an Amiga-based 68040 machine. There are so many different rumors flying around about the exact nature of the proposed machine that I don't think its worth quoting any of them. Whatever it turns out to be, though, I doubt it'll fit in my budget.

The November 14th issue of Computer & Software News contains an article about the prospective A3000, containing essentially the same info we reported here last month. Still, its always reassuring to get the same rumor from two independent sources.

HOLE-IN-ONE

A Review by Audrey McCalla

My birthday was approaching and I had been hinting to my husband that new miniature golf game we'd been seeing ads for sure looked interesting. And sure enough, when my birthday came, what do you think I got... yep, Hole-in-One Miniature Golf from DigiTek Software.

Hole-in-One comes in a package about the size of the ones popularized by Electronic Arts. It's not as fancy, though. Its made of flimsier material but artwork on the cover and inside is quite cute, cartooned snapshots of mom, dad, the kids and the whole family at the local miniature golf course.

The back cover shows some actual screen shots from game. It's these screen shots that are featured in their ads that made me decide Hole-in-One was worth trying.

Inside the package are two disks (the program disk and a course disk) and a tiny manual. The manual isn't much to look at but it does cover how to load the game, what the pull-down menus do, and how to copy the game to your hard disk. (What hard disk? Who can afford a hard disk?) Except for a few minor things like how to force the game to pick courses off of the second disk, Hole-in-One is so intuitive, you don't really need a manual.

You load the game by booting with the disk in df0:. After a moderate load time, you are presented with a menu showing three choices of course.

The first is a tutorial, the second is called "Classic" miniature golf, and the third is named "Expert". The manual insisted that the user should begin with the tutorial so I did. It probably wasn't necessary. As I said earlier the game play is rather intuitive, but the tutorial did explain everything you needed to know and it showed you the variety of kinds of courses you can play. You begin play by first using the mouse to place the ball anywhere on the starting mat. You then aim your shot my extending a "rubberband" line out from the ball in the chosen direction. The length of the line determines the hardness with which you will hit the ball. I've at least sampled each of the several Amiga golf games currently available and I find this method of determining stroke much easier to master than the other more common methods of aiming, clicking for the backstroke, clicking for the downstroke, and clicking again for the slice or hook. Of course that's for the fairway, but even on the green the other golf games use a simplified variation of that method. I guess you could argue that the other method more closely simulates reality, but for a putting game, this is much better. It definitely makes the game more fun and less of a chore. I moved quickly thorugh the tutorial and selected the "Classic" course.

The Classic course is an excellent computer rendition of the most challenging holes you might find at your local Putt-Putt golf course. You know, the one with the bumps, or the one with the pipe to putt through, or the one with the windmill, etc. Each hole is beatifully rendered in an overhead view. Beside one hole was a bench, and beside another was a concession stand. Yet another had a clown selling balloons. I finished the course about 10 over par. The course was hard enough that I didn't make par on most of them, but easy enough to be fun.

I had the feeling that with practice and some study of each hole's geometry, it would be possible to get a hole-in-one on each hole... possible but not easy.

At the end of 18 holes the program returns you to the course selection menu. I decided to try "Expert" course. The Expert course contained holes similar to those you would find at the Marquis de Sade's Putt Putt Establishment. You still had green carpets and pipes and bumps and the usual miniature golf paraphernalia but the courses were unnecessarily complex. Unlike the Classic coruse on the program disk, you usually couldn't tell what you were supposed to do to get the ball from the tee to the hole. One hole was a maze of pipes and no matter which pipe you putted into in seemed none led to the hole. I didn't do well at all on this course and decided to try the additional courses on the accompanying disk. To get to the courses on the other disk, you have to remove the program disk and insert the second disk. The menu automatically changes to show you the second disk's course selections. I think they were called "Intermediate" and "Menagerie." The Intermediate course was much like the Classics, merely harder. The Menagerie course was essentially a collection of iff pictures (some animated) on which you putted your ball.

One was a snow scene, upside down, complete with snow that fell up! Another was a pinball machine. Yet another was a cave viewed from the side and when you putted upward on the screen to avoid a puddle of water in front of you, the ball went up and then back down again as though gravity was tugging on it. Some of these were fun but I definitely liked the Classic course best.

Well, I guess you can tell I liked Hole-in-One. I think it lists for about $40, but is available mail-order for closer to $25. The only thing I don't like about Hole-in-One is that it is heavily copy protected. You can copy it to another disk, but you must have the original in df0: in order for it to run.

AMIGA (NOT QUITE) SIGHTED

An Editorial by Howard Duck

A few says ago I was watching TV. Actually, I was about to quite watching TV because I had things to do and a show I wasn't too fond of was coming on. I got up to turn off the TV but before I got to the set, I saw what seemed to be an Amiga 500 among a music keyboard and other paraphernalia. I started listening to the host, one of those middle-aged-housewifes' heartthrobs, whom I had been judiciously ignoring. I caught the tail-end of his introduction and heard him say something like "... and later we'll find out how to make your own music videos at home!" Well that sure sounded like the Amiga he was talking about. The description went well with Commodore's new commercials. So I sat back down and waited for the promised segment.

Now this show is basically a talk show, but unlike Phil or Oprah or the Katzenjammer Kids: Morton and Geraldo, this show tries to have a half-dozen or more guests, each with a different topic to discuss. I guess that's why I don't like it. That and the host's seeming shallowness. A typical interview lasts five or ten minutes tops and manages to be as superficial as the skin on a tomato. This show seemed to have even more segments than usual and I sat through five minutes of this and three minutes of that and finally the time came for the Amiga segment. It was about four minutes before the show was supposed to end. At that point...my cable went out.

SCRABBLE

A Review by Audrey McCalla

I guess everyone is familiar with the board game called Scrabble. But just in case you've been on Mars all of your life, it's a game played with tiles on a grid. Each tile has a letter on it and each player takes turns placing one or more of his tiles on the board to spell a word. You get different points for different letters and some of the spaces on the grid multiply your letter's value by two or three while others double or triple the entire word's value.

The problem with many board games is that they are time consuming or bothersome to set up. A good computer version of a board game should eliminate this kind of problem and Scrabble from Leisure Genius does. It is a faithful rendition of the board game which offers some useful features you won't find in the original. For example, the computer version lets you play against other humans but it also lets you play against one or more computer opponents. You can even chose their level of ability. I like playing two or three of the computer opponents and setting their abilities at various levels. Of course the level eight player invariably beats me. I can usually best the level four player though. One time I set four of the computer opponents against each other and sat back and watched.

The screen display is adequate, though not as pretty as Shanghai's. You enter the word you want to play from the keyboard but most other commands are entered via a mouse. Moves are timed, and you select the time limit before you start the game. If you play a word the computer doesn't recognize, it will ask you to verify it. If you admit you aren't certain it's a word, you will lose your turn. Scrabble comes with a 16 page manual and the instructions are good. You will need to read them in order to know how to do such things as play a wildcard tile. Scrabble comes on one heavily copy-protected disk and sells for around $30. If you like the board game, you'll appreciate having the computer version for those cold lonely nights when you can't find someone else to play. In fact the computer version is so easy to use, you may find you won't want to use the old board version again.

FRED FISH DISKS

Wanted to Trade

The DUCK Pond BBS has most of the Fred Fish public domain disk collection and is eager to find other Fred Fish disk owners who are willing to trade FF disks on a one-to-one basis.

Check the FOR SALE message area (area 4) of The DUCK Pond @ (205) 822-0956 for the up-to-date list of our Fred Fish collection and information on where to swap your disks for fresh ones.

Membership list of the Memphis Amiga Group as of December 3, 1988

PLEASE PAY DUES BY THE SECOND SATURDAY OF THE MONTH ON OUR EXPIRE DATE**

LAST NAME FIRST NAME CITY ST ZIP EXPIRE M#
Andrews Freddie L. Memphis TN 38128 MAY 89 61
Barr ********* Marc J. *********** Memphis TN 38104 NOV 88 41
Bilson Edward Memphis TN 38115 JAN 89 19
Bowers William Memphis TN 38119 MAY 89 62
Breu Joe Memphis TN 38115 AUG 89 68
Branan Daisy Memphis TN 38111 NOV 89 74
Broughton Kevin W. New York NY 09223-5366 JAN 89 55
Buford Matt Bartlett TN 38134 JUN 89 65
Burford Tim Southaven MS 38671 FEB 89 23
Burns Keith Cordova TN 38018 SEP 89 12
Campbell Terry A. Horn Lake MS 38637 AUG 89 69
Cervetti Michael Cordova TN 38018 JAN 89 58
Crichton Robert H. Jr Millington TN 38053 SEP 89 72
Davenport Marshall Memphis TN 38127 OCT 89 73
Davidson Al Memphis TN 38125 AUG 89 5
Doss Leonard Memphis TN 38119 AUG 89 9
Echols Steve Memphis TN 38116 DEC 89 49
Gray Bobby,Vickie,Terre Brighten TN 38011 MAY 89 24
Grimes Tim McLemoresville TN 38235 NOV 89 46
Harruff Richard Cordova TN 38018 AUG 89 71
Harvey ******* Eugene ************ Memphis TN 38126 NOV 88 47
Head David Memphis TN 38134 JAN 89 21
Hoffman Dr. Walter K. Memphis TN 38122 AUG 89 67
Hooker Bill Memphis TN 38135 NOV 89 42
Hoover ******* J. Michael ******** Bartlett TN 38134 DEC 88 52
Hudson Scott Memphis TN 38115 JUN 89 30
Jasmer Jerry Millington TN 38053 SEP 89 70
Jefferson **** Tom *************** Bartlett TN 38134 NOV 88 45
Jennings Ron Carson CA 90746 MAR 89 27
Johnson Richard Memphis TN 38127 SEP 89 38
Jones Tom Memphis TN 38128 AUG 89 8
Karpov Victor Memphis TN 38115 OCT 89 39
Kiss Sean & John Memphis TN 38118 FEB 89 25
Kligel Joe Memphis TN 38128 SEP 89 11
Lendennie **** Dianne ************ Collierville TN 38017 DEC 88 50
Lloyd ******** William D. ******** Memphis TN 38116 NOV 88 40
Lockard Don Alano TN 38001 AUG 89 7
Nichols ****** Steve ************* Memphis TN 38115 NOV 88 44
Presley Daniel Southaven MS 38671 JAN 89 56
Reese ******** Warren E. ********* Sayrna TN 37167 DEC 88 48
Robbins James Bartlett TN 38134 JAN 89 57
Rooks Todd Memphis TN 38128 MAY 89 64
Russell Shane Memphis TN 38134 JUL 89 66
Schwartz Dr. Alan Memphis TN 38187 AUG 89 3
Smart Timothy G. Memphis TN 38111 MAY 89 63
Spain David Bartlett TN 38135 NOV 89 75
Stockton ***** Mark ************** Cordova TN 38018 DEC 88 51
Thomas Roland Millington TN 38053 APR 89 60
Vineyard Charles W. Memphis TN 38118 AUG 89 10
Wallace Michael S. Marion AR 72364 SEP 89 35
Walp Len Memphis TN 38128 DEC 89 53
Weatherall Broadus & JoAnne Memphis TN 38111 JAN 89 22
Williams Charles Wilson AR 72395 AUG 89 37
Witt Patt Memphis TN 38111 JAN 89 54

MAG OFFICERS FOR 1988

Dr. Alan Schwartz President
Todd Rooks Vice President
Scott Hudson Secretary/Treasurer
Ed Bilson MAGazine Editor
David Head Librarian

SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP CHAIRPERSONS

John & Sean Kiss Sound
Don Lockard Graphics
Keith Burns Hardware
John & Sean Kiss Business