January 1994 MAGazine Volume 10 Number 1

Table Of Contents

The January General Meeting of the Memphis Amiga Group will be held Saturday, January 8 from 1:00 pm until approximately 3:00 pm in the Farris Auditorium on the campus of State Technical Institute at Memphis.

The newsletter is published monthly for distribution to the members of the Memphis Amiga Group. MAGazine contains meeting announcements, hardware and software reviews, video and book reviews, and other information of interest to Amiga and computer users in general. Contributions are welcome and may be submitted in hardcopy or via disk in ASCII format at any meeting or you can upload to Operator Headgap BBS - 3/12/24 - (901) 365-1583 or V.32bis hi speed ONLY! (901) 367-0744. Be sure to leave a note to the sysop.

From the President's CLI

by Bob Nunn

Happy New Year! Elections This Month!

The elections will be held at the January meeting. You have to be present to vote and your dues have to be current. We will open the floor for nominations at which time you are free to nominate any current member who is willing to participate. We will then vote for each office.

Suggested Board Member Lineup for MAG 1994:

President - Bob Nunn
Vice President - Open
Secretary - Cheryn Nunn
Treasurer - Terry Campbell
Librarian - Bill Bowers
Newsletter Editor - Charles Williams

My wife and I have reluctantly agreed to run for a second term. If anyone is interested in running in either spot we would appreciate it. As I mentioned in the meeting our personal activities have changed and we are in the process of moving into a new house, in fact we should be moving instead of attending the meeting. You may notice we have an opening for Vice President. We really need help here. Please consider who would make a good vice president and nominate them. If we are elected we are hopeful this next year that we will have more participation in demo planning for the meetings. That has been the hardest thing for us this year. It really would help if you get a new program or piece of hardware and are willing to show it off that you contact us. It also would help if you would take the time to let us know what you are interested in seeing.

What I would like to finish this next term is for the club to purchase and equip a 1200. With the Hard Drive from our existing 500 all we would really need is additional ram. There are several small boards that give you that plus and FPU and clock. That would help matters considerably in having the needed equipment for the people to do demo's on. We would then auction off what's left of the club's 500. We have just about raised enough funds from disk sales and new member packet sales.

I would like to continue to update the members packet this year. I think help for beginners is something that we must continue to emphasize this next year. I have had several people suggest that we also put together a list of people who have experience using programs and or hardware and that wouldn't mind fielding a few calls. Many of you already do this but without a list it makes it hard on new members to find out the best person to take their questions to.

I would also like to review the club's bylaws again and add a new provision in regards to elections. An independent nominating committee is a good idea for any organization this size. Provisions for this should be written up and added.

Looking back I would say that we have had a good year. We have had ups and downs in both club size and meeting participation. We do have access to the wonderful free accommodations at State Tech thanks to our Vice President (for asking) and Roy Wright of State Tech's Audio Visual Dept. for being our sponsor. we have learned a few new things, seen exciting new hardware, established a relationship with many Amiga third party manufacturers and software vendors, made good contacts with other user groups, established a club sponsored bulletin board, put together a decent members package and added some great material to the club's library.

My wife and I both have made many new friends and learned a great deal. We thank you for your support and assistance this year.

Remember if you we can be of assistance you can visit with us via my BBS - Operator Headgap - 901-365-1583 or 367-0744 both v32bis! and call and visit on our club sponsored BBS - Amiga Pitts - 854-5716 (HST) or 854-1989 v32bis.

MAG Meetings

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) holds general meetings the second Saturday of each month in the Farris Auditorium on the campus of State Technical Institute at Memphis (see map at left).

There will be a board of directors lunch meeting at Gridley's in the formal dining room beginning at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, January 8 (before the general meeting). For more information call Bob Nunn at 901-795-0461.

Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1993

President
Bob Nunn
(901) 795-0461 voice

Vice President
Cheryn Nunn
(901) 365-1583 data

Treasurer
Terry Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Librarian
Bill Bowers
(901) 360-0003

MAGazine Editor
Charles Williams
(501) 655-8777

MAGazine Printing & Distribution
Terry A. Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Disk Sales & Video Rentals

MAG library and Fred FISH disks are $2 each.
($5 each for non-members)
Quality blank disks with labels are 65¢ each.
($1 each for non-members)
Rental of Amiga related videotapes is $3 per week.
(not available to non-members)
For all this and more contact club librarian
Bill Bowers (901) 360-0003
OR see Bill at the next MAG general meeting.

Advertising Rates

Full Page $20.00
1/2 Page $11.00
1/4 Page $7.50
1/8 Page (or business card) $3.00

(contact Terry Campbell at 601-393-4864)

INFO

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) is a non-profit organization whose purpose is promoting and encourageing the use and understanding of the Commodore Amiga Computer. Memberships are open to all those who share a common interest in the Amiga computer and its many wonderful and unique features. Monthly meetings are open to the public and visitors are welcome.

Annual membership dues for new members are $25.00 with an annual renewal rate of $20.00. Associate memberships are available for $15.00 per year, renewable at the same rate, to those who must travel more than 45 miles one way to attend general meetings. All memberships are family memberships and dues are nonrefundable.

Club Sponsored BBS

Scott Pitts is now running the MAG BBS which is also called the Amiga Pitts. The BBS has many excellent features including a large file transfer area and the Fred Fish Collection CD-ROM online. The BBS needs your support, call today! 901-753-9992 (16.8 HST) and 901-753-9719 (v32.bis)

Usenet Review: Deluxe Music 2.0

By Daniel Barrett

PRODUCT NAME

Deluxe Music 2.0

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Deluxe Music 2.0 ("DM2") is a program for creating, print, and playing music using the Amiga's sound chip or MIDI instruments. It is primarily a music notation program rather than a sequencer, though it has some basic sequencer functions.

A freely distributable demo version of DM2 is available on the Aminet ftp sites and elsewhere. This demo is based on an older version of the program and contains some bugs which have reportedly been fixed in the actual release. It also has saving and printing disabled. However, it will give you a reasonable idea of the program's user interface.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: Electronic Arts
Address: PO Box 7578
San Mateo, CA
94403-7578 USA
Telephone: (414) 572-2787

The program was written by David "Talin" Joiner.

LIST PRICE

$100 (US). Mail order price is approximately $80.

An upgrade is available to owners of the original Deluxe Music Construction Set for $50 plus shipping. Call Electronic Arts at 800-245-4525, weekdays between 8am and 5pm Pacific Time, and have your DMCS manual ready.

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

HARDWARE

An Amiga computer with 1 MB RAM or more, 2 floppy drives or 1 hard drive. A printer is recommended.

SOFTWARE

Reportedly runs under all Amiga-DOS versions from 1.3 to 3.0 ARexx is recommended.

COPY PROTECTION

Serial number protection. When you install the program, you are prompted for your name, company name, and program serial number. This information is then encoded directly in the program. A little window pups up for a few seconds and displays it every time you load the program.

This copy protection is painless, and I find it completely acceptable.

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

Amiga 3000T, 8 MB Fast RAM, 2 MB Chip RAM, 210 MB hard drive. ECE MIDI Plus interface. AmigaDOS 2.1 (Kickstart 2.04 ROM).

OVERVIEW

The long-awaited Deluxe Music 2 is finally shipping. More than an update of the original Deluxe Music Construction Set (DMCS), DM2 is a completely rewritten program with a similar interface, created by David Joiner the author of the MIDI sequencer "Music-X."

For many years, the Amiga has had no professional-quality music notation programs; see the section "COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS," below, for more information. Does DM2 finally give us a pro-level notation program? I hope to answer in this question in my review.

DM2 includes the program itself, a directory full of sampled instrument sounds, a few example scores, and a freely distributable player program called DMPlayer.

This review will discuss the operation of DM2 in some detail, and then I shall focus on the shortcomings of the program. Unfortunately, this program really needs some improvement.

VOCABULARY FOR NON-MUSICIANS

You will need some musical knowledge to understand this review. Here is a little vocabulary that may help non-muscians or people who need a brief review of terminology.

MUSICIANS MAY SKIP THIS SECTION

DM2 is a "notation" or "scoring" or "music transcription" program, which means that it is used for creating written music or "sheet music." A "score" is a complete piece of sheet music, either printed or on the screen, and consists of one or more "staves" (which is the plural of "staff"). A "staff" refers to the 5 horizontal lines on which we write traditional music notation. Typically, the music of one instrument appears on each staff, although some instruments typically use two (piano) or three (organ) parallel staves. A staff contains "notes" (indicating a musical sound) and "rests" (indicating a period of silence), plus various other symbols. If we want to write a note that is too high or too low for the staff, little extra lines called "ledger lines" are added for that single note.

A single note consists of two parts: the "note head" or "head" which is the little circle indicating the pitch, and a "stem" which is the vertical line extending from the head, indicating the duration. A symbol called a "clef" indicates which lines on the staff represent which notes.

Notes can be grouped together or "beamed" by connecting the stems with horizontal or diagonal lines. The music on a staff is separated into "measures" using vertical lines called "bar lines." A "time signature" determines how much music goes into each measure, and a "key signature" determines which pitches are appropriate to be used in the piece. (This set of pitches is called the "key" of the piece. You can use any pitches you want, but the pitches in the "key" are more convenient to notate.) A pitch that is not in the key of the piece is called an "accidental," and there are 5 kinds: sharp (raise pitch), double-sharp (raise pitch twice), flat (lower pitch), double-flat (lower pitch twice), and natural (undo any sharp or flat).

"MIDI" stands for "Musical Instrument Digital Interface." This is a method of communication between a computer and an electronic musical instrument (e.g., synthesizer), or between two instruments, so one can control the other. Pressing a key on (for example) a synthesizer keyboard sends a message through a wire (a "MIDI cable") saying "key number 23 was just pressed!" This message can be recorded and played back by a computer, causing the instrument to reproduce the note, or it can simply be sent to another instrument which will then play its "key number 23." (This s a VERY simplistic explanation suitable for beginners only.) The important thing to realize is that MIDI does not transmit any sound; instead it transmits message like "play this note" and "stop playing this note." A computer program or hardware device that records and plays back such information is called a "MIDI sequencer."

If you are a non-musician who read this section, please send me e-mail telling me whether it help you understand the review or not. (I am just curious.)

THE CHALLENGES OF COMPUTER NOTATION

The perfect music notation program still does not exist. The reason is that musical notation is very diverse, somewhat arbitrary, and quite difficult to get right. Here are some examples of why writing a notation program is hard. I am including this section because, in my opinion, some USENET readers do not know what I mean by a "professional" notation program.

Let's start with the obvious stuff: correct output. Symbols should look correct, clear, and be free of "jaggies" when printed. The dots on dotted notes should be dose to the notes they modify. Horizontal spacing should look "natural," and simultaneous events in different staves should line up vertically.

Beaming can be a challenge. When several notes must be beamed together, we want the results to look both clear and natural. By clear. I mean that the individual beams should be visible and not overwrite any note heads. By natural. I mean that the beams should be at a "good" distance from the note heads and drawn at an angle that looks appropriate for the notes. If the notes are ascending or descending by simple steps, then beam angles may be easy to calculate; but if the notes are spread out all over the staff, should the beam angle upwards, downwards, or neither? The answer may depend on the notes that appear before and after the beamed ones.

Chords can be challenging to notate if the individual notes are very close together. Note heads should not overlap too much to obscure each other, nor should they be so far apart that gaps are visible. This is particularly true when a chord contains a half step.

Two of the most difficult pieces of musical notation for a program to get right are "ties" and "slurs." These are slightly arced lines -- similar to the arcs drawn in a paint program -- that connect two notes (in the case of a tie) or group several notes (a slur). These are difficult for a program to draw precisely because their size is not constant, they need to be diagonal at arbitrary angles (in the case of slurs), and they may need to extend between measures or even staves.

A final challenge is that there are many symbols available in musical notation, and some composers even like to make up their own notation. Does the program support all standard clefs? How about non-standard time and key signatures? What if we want only 4 lines on a staff and diamond-shaped note heads (as in some medieval music)? What if we don't want any bar lines (as in modern classical music)? How do you notate the scraping of an aluminum can lid on a violin string? The ideal notation program would allow the user to draw his/her own symbols and add them (permanently or temporarily) to the program's musical vocabulary.

We shall see how DM2 fares against these notational challenges.

INSTALLATION

Installation is easy. Simply click on the Install-Deluxe Music icon, and the Commodore Installer program guides you through the steps to put DM2 on your hard drive or another floppy disk.

I had one problem when using the "Pretend To Install" option. After I choose the name of the directory which will contain the DeluxeMusic subdirectory and click "Proceed". I get the error message

Sorry, an error has occurred Gtenv: string too long -- and the Installer exits. I don't know if this a bug in the Installer or in the particular installation script. I think I've seen this happen before when installing another application.

CREATING AND EDITING MUSICAL DATA

My first test of DM2 was to invoke the program and start using it without reading the manual. I found the interface to be very intuitive. Three windows are presented to the user at first: the Score Window, the Tool Window, and the Piano Keyboard window.

The Score Window is a blank score with two staves (treble and bass), 1 measure long. As you add notes to the score, a blank measure is continually appended. When you play back your score, notes get highlighted as they are played.

The Tool Window contains gadgets which represent different kinds of musical symbols, click on a symbol, the mouse pointer turns into that symbol, and you can insert that symbol into the Score Window by clicking on the desired part of the staff. The Tool Window also has tools for erasing symbols, beaming, and text entry.

The Piano Keyboard window looks like a piano and is an alternate way to add notes to the score. Click on a key, and the corresponding note is inserted into the score. You can also build chords and insert rests. During playback, the corresponding keys on the keyboard are highlighted.

The menus are pretty standard, conforming pretty closely to those in the Amiga User Interlace Style Guide. Without the manual, I was able to figure out what most menu items do with only a few exceptions. That is, given a menu item, I could use it. The opposite gave me trouble, though: if I want to do some operation, how do I execute it? I had to hunt quite a bit for some operations. For example, to control the global amount of space between staves, I guessed to look under "Score Settings" first. Nope. It's under "Staves." Little ambiguities like that made the program a little bit hard to use. But these are small complaints -- once you read the manual, it's no problem.

DM2 has a reasonable amount of notational flexibility, but it has some unfortunate limitations. For example:

NICE FEATURE UNFORTUNATELY
You can set the number of staves. The number of staves must remain constant for the entire score.
You can change the clef in any measure. Clef changes are allowed only at the beginning of the measure.
Note values from whole note all the way to 64th note. No grace notes.
Important symbols available like fermata, C clef, "dc a fine", etc. These are font symbols only and do not affect playback.
Automatically numbers your measures. No page numbers.
Insert text into the score. No score title, author name, page headers/footers, piano fingering.

So while DM2 has some nice features, I wish it went a little further than it does.

Once really nice feature of the program is that you can leave various requestors (really they are windows) open while you edit the score. Other programs force you to close the requestor before you can continue working. In addition, while playback and printing are going on, you can still work with the program. (Though this sometimes leads to trouble: see the "BUGS" section.)

Now for the bad news: Deluxe Music is missing LOTS of important features that prevent it from being a professional-level notation program. I've already mentioned grace notes, score titles, page numbering, and piano fingering. Some more are:

It's also missing basic features like:

It's also missing professional features like:

MEETING THE CHALLENGES

In the section "THE CHALLENGES OF COMPUTER NOTATION" above, I listed some things that are difficult to do in a notation program. Let's see how DM2 handles them.

Correct Output: DM2 gets a bunch of the basics right. Note heads are clear (though sometimes they overlap and notes must be moved manually). In some rare occasions, note stems do not reach all the way to their beams. Plenty of jaggedness is visible when scores are printed on my 300dpi laser printer. Some symbols overlap each other and cannot be corrected; for example, "8va up" symbols overlap high notes. Dots on dotted notes are sometimes correctly placed, sometimes too high, and sometimes missing (!!), particularly in chords with dotted notes (see the "BUGS" section, below).

Beaming: In general, DM2 chooses beam distances and angles well. Unfortunately, some note/rest combinations are impossible to beam with DM2.

Chords: DM2 does a decent job, even with chords containing half steps.

Ties And Slurs: DM2 can tie/slur notes within a measure, across measures and across staves. Nice. But they look lousy printed: very jagged. And very small ties are not symmetric, making them look deformed.

Creating Your Own Symbols: DM2 provides no facility for this. You can create your own Amiga font full of musical symbols and use it, but DM2 has no user interface for inserting these symbols except by keystroke, forcing the user to memorize which keystrokes correspond to which font symbols.

PROGRAM PREFERENCES

DM2 can run on many kinds of screens, including custom, Workbench and Public Screens. You can change the Palette and the font. However, if you change the font to something too large, you can't access the rightmost menus because they are pushed offscreen. And the rightmost menu is the "Settings" menu, so you can't change the font back. And the Settings menu has no keyboard equivalents. OOPS!!! You're stuck. Quit the program and restart it.

Even with this little "Catch 22" problem, it is great to see a program that lets the user modify the screen type so nicely. Well done.

INTERNAL SOUNDS

DM2 comes with 32 sampled instrument sounds. I think their quality is reasonable for use as a sketchpad and for quick feedback. I do my real playback with MIDI synthesizers. Since sounds are a matter of taste, I won't say any more on this.

MIDI IMPLEMENTATION

Instead of using the internal sounds, you can assign different staves to play on different MIDI channels. This worked fine for me.

You can also input your music using a MIDI keyboard, on one staff at a time. Note duration is increased the longer you hold down the key: it jumps to eighth, dotted eighth, quarter, etc., at a speed that you may set. Too bad there's no metronome built in, or you might be able to enter your music in real time.

DM2 is not a heavy-duty sequencer. It doesn't have sophisticated features like MIDI event filtering, system exclusive handling, etc.: just simple recording and playback.

MUSIC PLAYBACK

The score can be played back starting either from the beginning, or between two markers (Begin/End Section). This is pretty lame, since there is only one set of markers in a score. I'd rather see an unlimited number, and the ability to name them for easy reference.

During playback, there is no way to cause the program to skip repeats, or skip to a second ending. There also appears to be no way to adjust the volumes of the internal instruments reletive to one another.

I'd rate the playback options as "minimally acceptable."

MUSIC PRINTING

Printing speed is approximately one page every 5-6 minutes on my 68030 Amiga with an HP Laserjet IIP printer.

Some of my complaints about the printing are:

If you look at the output from 1-2 feet away, it appears close to publication quality. But look closer and you see the jaggies. This is not professional output, but it's good enough to read.

AREXX IMPLEMENTATION

DM2 has a very rich ARexx implementation with 86 commands, some having many options. I wrote a few scripts, and most things worked as documented. If your script contains an error, DM2 puts up a requestor with the ARexx error message - THANK YOU for this.

ARexx macros may be recorded and played back interactively. Just choose "Record", do a bunch of things in the program, and then stop recording. You have just created a macro that can be played back repeatedly, and then saved in a file if you desire.

ARexx macros are executed using a file requestor (choose the script name) or may be assigned to function keys. DM2 also has an ARexx Console (a command-line shell) which lets the user type ARexx commands directly if desired, for experimentation or quick operations. GREAT feature.

A few of the ARexx commands are implemented strangely. For example, the "Next Note" command which moves the cursor to the next note will deselect the previous note, if it was selected. This is dumb, since a very obvious operation is to move from note to note, selecting each. I wonder if this behavior is a bug?

Another strange thing is that "Goto Measure" does looks like it moves the cursor to the beginning of the measure, but internally it doesn't. If you try to do a "SelectItem" immediately afterwards, it selects the second item in the measure. To go the beginning of a measure, you have to go "Goto Measure" followed by "Previous Note".

I have one big complaint about ARexx in DM2, and that is Electronic Arts' attitude about it. The manual repeatedly describes ARexx as "an advanced programming language" which is "recommended for expert computer users" only. Not only that, but "Electronic Arts does not offer technical customer support for ARexx scripting issues." Hey, why not just say that ARexx is poison that will kill you?!? Come on, EA, what's the point in trying to scare away new users from ARexx?

I have more complaints about the ARexx documentation in the "DOCUMENTATION" Section, below.

FILE FORMATS

DM2 stores its files by default in CMUS formate, a new IFF format which is more powerful than the old SMUS that Deluxe Music Construction Set used. It can also read and write files in SMUS and Standard MIDI File (SMF) format.

Realize, however, that not all file formats store the same information. If you don't save in CMUS format, not all of the symbols in your score will be saved. SMF format is great for importing your music into a sequencer, but it won't store beaming, text, etc. It also doesn't notice your repeat signs, which I consider a design flaw: DM2 should give you the option of "expanding" repeated sections by including them multiple times in the SMF. Finally, according to a report I read in comp.sys.amiga.audio, saving in SMUS format has problems with notes with long duration.

DOCUMENTATION

Documentation consists of a 167-page, spiral bound manual, an 8-page fold-out Amiga Reference Card, and a README file on disk with last-minute information.

The manual is suitable for beginners and contains several tutorials that are reasonably good. Experts will occasionally be frustrated with the manual's "beginner" tone.

I don't like the presentation of the ARexx information. Pardon me for yelling, but I wish manufacturers would...

STOP DOCUMENTING AREXX COMMANDS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER!!!

IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE NAME OF THE COMMAND YOU NEED, YOU HAVE TO READ THE WHOLE DAMN SECTION TO FIND IT!!!

PLEASE DOCUMENT AREXX COMMANDS ACCORDING TO THEIR FUNCTION!!!

For example, "file commands", "movement commands", "delete commands", "locking and unlocking the GUI commands", etc. If you insist on using alphabetical order, then AT LEAST provide a brief functional grouping of command names in a separate section. This is SO frustrating. In fact, I am so frustrated that I wrote my own functional grouping and uploaded it to Aminet, in the directory /pub/aminet/mus/midi, in the file DMusic2-ARexx.lha.

The Reference Card is very handy, except for its coverage of ARexx, which does nothing but scare users away from trying it.

LIKES AND DISLIKES

Likes

  1. It's easy to use.
  2. It adheres to Commodore's User Interface Style Guide.
  3. It has a ton of ARexx commands.

Dislikes

  1. Thre is no visual indicator of whether the current score is saved or not.
  2. You can't erase text with the Eraser Tool. In fact, you can't erase text boxes at all! You can delete the text in them, but the invisible text boxes stay around forever.
  3. While multitasking, it's easy to insert extra notes accidentally. Click the Note Tool, flip Deluxe Music's screen to the back, work on a different screen for a while, and then flip back to Deluxe Music. If you activate the screen by clicking in the score window, an unwanted note gets inserted. Boo. Other porgrams can detect that they are being reactivated and won't treat the first mouseclock as an operation. (In fact, David Joiner's own Music-X program does this.)
  4. The program is missing many standard notation features that I mentioned in the body of the review.
  5. This is a BIG one. Deluxe Music uses the same Clipboard unit as most programs - unit 0. This means that if you are multitasking Deluxe Music with your favorite word processor, then cutting/pasting with your word processor deletes or garbages the data that Deluxe Music puts on the clipboard. FRUSTRATING! Possibly this is a bug in Deluxe Music, because writing to the clipboard with DM2 doesn't garbage other programs' clipped data.
  6. Insert some text. Now adjust the staff spacing using the Staff Window. The text stays in the same absolute position, rather than moving to the same relative position in the score. Let the user attach text to symbols so the text moves when the symbol does.
  7. If two notes are tied, and you want to tie the second also to a third note, you can't do it directly. You have to remove the first tie, select all three notes, and tie them all.
  8. "Revert" makes the dispay jump away from the current location to elsewhere in the score. This is because while the old version is reloading, the scroll bar gets moved around, and then the score jumps to correspond to the new scrollbar location.
  9. Why does "Tie Note Up" have a keyboard equivalent but "Tie Note Down" does not? Why doesn't every non-dangerous menu item have a keyboard equivalent?

Suggestions

  1. Allow the user to choose which Clipboard unit is used by the program, so it doesn't conflict with other non-music programs. Or if the behavior is a bug, fix it.
  2. If you click on the background screen, you have no menu bar at all. While this is natural from a programming standpoint, it can be confusing to the user. Always have some menu active.
  3. If you want to make a very high note on a low staff, the program can't distinguish it from a low note on a on a high staff (due to overlap). There should be a "staff lock" command that forces all input to go to a particular staff.
  4. Too often, I have to click on the background before the Note Tool to "clear" the fact that notes are selected. If I don't, then I can't clock on any modifiers (to apply to the next note) without applying them to the selected notes. There should be a quick way to do "deselect all" rather than clicking on the background, or even better, the program should "deselect all" (at the user's option) when the Note Tool is clicked (perhaps under certain circumstances... THINK about how this should be done.)
  5. I don't like the use of "Exit" in some requesters, such as the one in the "Save As" requestor, which should probably be "Cancel."
  6. The GetItemAttr command has no way to discover the name of the current note (A. C, etc.). only the MIDI pitch number. Thus, enharmonic notes (e.g., A-sharp and B-flat) cannot be distinguished.

COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

The old "Deluxe Music Construction Set" was interesting to play with, but it had severe limitations and does not work reliably under AmigaDOS 2.0 and higher.

Dr. T's "Copyist Professional DTP" produces excellent output, but it is primarily a graphics program lacking real knowledge of music. (For example, if you want to insert a measure, you have to move all the later measures by hand to make space. This is pathetic! Can you imagine a word processor forcing you to do this when you insert a word?) DM2 has more musical knowledge, though its printed output is inferior to Copyist's Postscript. Maybe someone will write a new "Copyist Companion" program that will convert from CMUS to Copyist format for printing.

The freely distributable MusicTeX or MuTeX also produces great output and is quite flexible, but it requires TeX programming knowledge to use effectively. DM2 is far easier to use.

The Macintosh and PC have pro-level programs like Finale. Score, Notator, and several others, but these have never been ported to the Amiga. These programs are light-years beyond anything available for the Amiga. Finale can reportedly be run on the Amiga using the AMax II+ or Emplant Macintosh emulators.

BUGS

Sigh... Deluxe Music is FULL of bugs. I am really surprised that the program was released in this buggy stale. Here is a brief listing of the bugs that I discovered in two weeks of using the program.

Serious Bugs

  1. The program produces Enforcer hits. They happen at various times that I cannot predict. One reproducible hit is to open the ARexx Console and type "changeitem pitch -1", which is an illegal command, but NOTHING should produce Enforcer hits.
  2. Create a measure with an octave chord in it. Apply a sharp accidental to the lower note. Save the score and close it. Re-load the score, and both notes now have sharps on them. (This is musically incorrect -- accidentals do not automatically apply to other notes with the same name, e.g., an octave away.) [This bug was discovered by some one else on USENET.]
  3. Sometimes, quitting the program causes a recoverable alert (yellow) to be displayed, saying "Not enough memory for this operation". Not enough memory to QUIT?! Huh??
  4. After pasting from the clipboard, the score cursor does not appear in any consistent place. Sometimes it's in the next measure of the same staff. Sometimes it's in the same measure of the next staff. Sometimes it's in the middle of a measure. And soon. So quick, consistent, repeated pasting is not possible.

Other Bugs

  1. Inserting a rest sometimes causes a note to be played.
  2. Inserting a note sometimes causes the wrong note -- an octave off -- to be played.
  3. Use the "Up Octave" menu item to raise notes in your topmost staff so high that they go beyond the staff separation markers. Now lower the notes. Bogus ledger lines are left in the staff above.
  4. Click the depth gadget on the Tools Window. Then click the Note Tool. The cursor should change into a note head, but it doesn't.
  5. Slurs don't move upward during an "Up Octave" operation, if you flip the note stems twice, the problem is corrected.
  6. Sometimes when dragging a note, the wrong pitch will sound. For example, in the key of A-flat major. drag an E-flat up a half step. An F-flat sounds, but the actual note Is F.
  7. Once when I clicked on the close gadget of the Tool Window, the mouse pointer disappeared. It came back when I clicked the right mouse button.
  8. The "8va up" and "8va down" symbols cannot be moved up and down; therefore, they overlap very high and low notes, respectively. This is true both on the printout and on screen.
  9. Very high notes overlap with instrument names.
  10. Insert a very low note as the first note of the last measure in the score. This forces the screen to scroll. Under some circumstances, if you hold down the mouse button too long, the scrolling causes the note to be inserted much too low. This is intermittent, but I can usually reproduce it after a few minutes of trying.
  11. Open a new text box. Then change font to a smaller size. The box stays big (to accommodate the large font), and the text in the new font sometimes comes out too large. This is intermittent.
  12. Scrolling the score vertically sometimes causes graphics glitches. The main one is that a portion of the staff gets drawn one pixel too high, so the straight lines are disconnected at a point.
  13. It is not possible to apply an "8va up" to a single note. Try it, and no "8va" symbol appears.
  14. Display the Piano Keyboard Window and click on the "Enter Notes In Score" gadget so a checkmark appears. Now print your score. While printing is in progress, click on the gadget again and the checkmark disappears. However, the program still thinks that you are in "enter notes in score" mode, even though the gadget is unchecked.
  15. Create a half-step chord -- adjacent E and F at the bottom of a staff with a treble clef -- made of dotted notes. The dot for the E is missing. For other note combinations, the upper note has two dots instead of one.
  16. Multiple menu selection doesn't always work. (Holding down the right mouse button and clicking several menu items with the left button.) I could not reproduce this problem later.
  17. I was able to drag a text box so far to the left of the score window that the drag gadget was left out of the window bounds (that is, i could not see it). Thus, I was not able to drag the box any more since the gadget was out of sight. I could not reproduce this bug. Maybe I was clueless and forgot about the horizontal scrollbars.
  18. The "8va up" modifier is ignored when you select a note to hear its pitch. The pitch that is played is the un-raised pitch. (Similarly for "8va down".)
  19. In a measure with some beamed notes, spend a lot of time adjusting the beams manually so they look just the way you like. Then add a new note to the measure. All the beams jump back to their original positions!!!
  20. When you do a "Down Octave" operation on beamed notes, the note stems grow downward, but the beam stays in the same place. So you get notes with ridiculously long beams. If you flip the note stems twice, the stems go back to normal.
  21. Try to beam a triplet consisting of an 8th note and a 16th note which are tied together. The beam appears normally. Click elsewhere in the score. The beam disappears! This is intermittent.
  22. Halting (canceling) a print job leaves my printer's "job in progress" light turned on. I don't know if the program or the printer is at fault, but my other programs don't cause this to happen.
  23. Saving a score as a Standard MIDI File removes all of the repeat signs. It also loses some time signature changes.
  24. Clicking on the the Play Section control sometimes produces a burst of audio noise instead of starting playback. Clicking a second time starts playback.
  25. The empty measure at the end of the score is impossible to get rid of permanently. Delete it, save the score and reload it, and the empty measure is back.
  26. Insert two instrument changes in the same staff. Now insert notes after the second instrument change. The notes you hear during insertion use the first instrument sound.
  27. The ARexx sequence of LockGUI followed by UnlockGUI leaves an extra score cursor (vertical bar) on the screen. UpdateDisplay doesn't remove it. Resizing the score window does.
  28. Rests are considered of NOTE type when using GetItemAttr. They have Note.Pitch = 0. However, 0 is a legitimate MIDI note pitch, so this is a conflict.

Unintended Behavior (probably)

  1. The "undo" command clears all of the modifiers (sharps, triplets, etc.) in the Tool Window.
  2. Locate a note in your score that is a natural in the key signature (that is, its scale degree does not have a sharp or flat applied). Use the mouse to drag the note to a sharped/flatted scale degree. This turns on the sharp/flat in the Tool Window, and it stays on! Thus, the next notes you wnter will have this sharp/flat applied to them.
  3. Apply an "8va up" to a group of notes. Then use the Score Setup Window to increase the score width. The notes spread out, but the "8va up" symbol doesn't line up with the notes any more. Unfortunately, this bug is intermittent.
  4. Click the Play Section gadget. Then click the Stop gadget. Then click the Stop gadget again, so the score should start playing from where it left off. It does (sometimes), but now the Play (instead of Play Section) gadget is turned on. I think that "continue from where you left off" should mean that the same play mode should be used.

VENDOR SUPPORT

DM2 was supposed to ship by April 1993, according to advertisements by Electronic Arts, but it didn't appear until late September. Such delays reflect badly on the vendor, in my opinion.

I have had no reason to contact the vendor, but I will be sending them a long bug report. :-(

WARRANTY

Media is guaranteed for 90 days. After 90 days, it costs $7.50 (US) for each replacement disk.

CONCLUSIONS

Page 32 of the manual states that "DeluxeMusic give you complete flexibility in the way you format your musical scores." Unfortunately, this statement is too optimistic. The fact that you cannot raise "8va" symbols and instruments names so that they don't obscure your notes is a simple counterexample, and there are dozens more.

The sheer number of bugs in this program is very disappointing. Since many of them are intermittent bugs, I fear that they will be hard for the author to track down. I really hope they get fixed though, and soon.

Deluxe Music 2.0 is not a professional level notation program. But pro-level programs run $250 or more on other computers. Is Deluxe Music 2.0 worth the price? Yes. You can get some work done with it, and it's rather fun, except for the annoying bugs.

I give this program 2.5 out of 5 starts in its current state. It fills a much needed gap in Amiga software, but not enough to satisfy me. I hope that Electronic Arts will give this program a serious update, or at least a bug fix very soon.

Copyright 1993 by Daniel J. Barrett. This article may be freely distributed as long as it is distributed in its entirety. It may not be included in any commercial publication without the written permission of the author.

Pinball Fantasies AGA Game Review

By Henry Norman

PRODUCT NAME

Pinball Fantasies AGA

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Pinball game simulation. Four different pinball tables.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: 21st Century Entertainment, Ltd.
Address: Westbrook street
Blueberry, Oxfordshire
OX11 9QB, UK
US distributor: Digital Illusions, Inc. (DI)

LIST PRICE

I paid $40 (US).

COPY PROTECTION

Look up a word in the manual. Prompts at startup time. Hard disk installable.

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

AGA graphics. PAL mode (NTSC 1200/4000, boot system with both mouse buttons depressed, select PAL, continue boot).

Pinball runs on NTSC, but important parts of playfield are not seen.

[MODERATOR'S NOTE: Previous reviews of the non-AGA version have not mentioned any problems with NTSC vs. PAL. I suspect that either Mr. Norman purchased a PAL version of the game, or the AGA version has different requirements than the non-AGA version. - Dan]

MINI-REVIEW

I bought Pinball Fantasies for my son's Christmas pleasures (yeah, right!). Since he's away skiing for a few days, I installed the game and took it for a spin... Wow! Now I know why I upgraded to AGA! If you haven't yet seen this game, check it out! It is your classical "Williams" type pinball setup, with a playfield about three screens high (with absolutely smooth scrolling), offering four different "machine layouts" (DI calls them "tables"). They have the typical pinball gizmos, with bumpers, bounce areas, buttons to hit, flippers, all "very well" done. The really slick thing with this game, nice graphics aside, is the uncanny realism the authors (a bunch of Swedish programmers) have achieved in ball action: you're there! It is absolutely amazing (to me) to play this kind of pinball! This game should have some "addiction" government warning label on it... Ask your C= dealer if you can check it out on their A4000 demo machine. Get this game. (No, I'm in no way affiliated with Digital Illusions. I'm just excited that in the midst of an avalanche of substandard games, here's a "real gem"!)

For some reason, DI "front-ended" the game proper with a module that attempts to stop unpaid-for copies of the game to start circulating ("yeah, right" again): you have to look up keywords from the manual and answer a question properly before you can begin shooting for those million point bonuses. This sucks. Especially considering that one only has to copy a few pages from the manual to be in business anyway (it is made thicker by making it a four-language manual :). But then I realized that this scheme forced me to read something from the manual every time I start Pinball... maybe it's not such a bad idea after all?

Pinball is following the AmigaDOS rules, and behaves well. Even though it takes over the machine completely, it gives everything back in order when it's done, and returns gracefully to AmigaDOS (as some put, "it multitasks well", IMHO, multitasking has nothing to do with it: it is a simple matter of coding the darn thing properly).

I don't know if it is true for all Pinball Fantasises boxes sold, but the copy I picked up (at HT Electronics, Sunnyvale) didn't work right at first... a substantial portion of the playfield wouldn't show on the screen. No clue in the manual... When I saw all the Swedish names in the list of game contributors, I figured maybe this should run on a PAL machine to work right? So I booted my A4000 as a PAL machine, and lo and behold: the game came up with "all" of the playfield displayed (and with better vertical resolution!). It runs "semi-OK" in NTSC, but on my A4000 the crucial lower portion of the playfield is hidden (including most of the lower flippers), so it's hard to control the ball action -- the extra hassle of PAL booting is well worth it!

My only complaint is the sound effects: the vendor could have spent some more time and effort (MHO) on the noises emitted from a real pinball table. As it is, only some of the actions the ball experiences have audio (I really miss the metallic rolling sound of the ball, especially when it runs up and down these steel railings... Oh well!). This flaw is "hidden" in a cacaphony of "game music" (which can be toggled off by hitting M). However, the super realistic ball simulation more than adequately makes up for this: it is truly amazing! If this is only a forerunner of AGA productions coming out of the pipeline, it's going to be expensive for me... (HaHaOS :)).

As Beavis and Butthead would have put it: "hehehe, dude, this game is cool... yeah, it kicks a**! hehehehe, pinball rules!"

The Real Truth About Memory Protection

by Daniel J. Barrett

The discussion of memory protection is very interesting. Very, VERY interesting.

Especially because the Amiga already HAS memory protection.

Yes, you heard me right. The Amiga already has memory protection.

Your programs don't have to crash each other anymore! No more gurus! No more accidents! In fact, no more frying your 8520's or dropping heavy weights on top of your monitor! COMPLETE SAFETY!

But memory protection doesn't come with the base OS. You have to buy it separately. Just head down to your local dealer and look for the package marked...

MAFIADOS

Yes, MafiaDOS, the ULTIMATE in memory protection! MafiaDOS watches over all of your running programs and make sure nothing, uh, "happens" to them. I mean, all kinds of "accidents" could occur. MafiaDOS keeps your programs "safe."

And all you have to do is send in $135/month (U.S.) to the authors. In return, each month you get the latest version of MafiaDOS which keeps your programs "protected" for another 30 days. If you get behind in your payments, no problem! We understand. In fact, we are so understanding that we'll even send you two ABSOLUTELY FREE programs called "Vito" and "Bruno" that will "help" you to come up with the money.

If you enjoy MafiaDOS's memory protection, then you'll be sure to love its COPY protection feature. Here's how it works. Suppose you buy a copy protected program, but the disk dies after several uses. Don't panic! Just insert the MafiaDOS disk in DF0: and the damaged disk in DF1:, and then turn on your modem. MafiaDOS will automatically dial up the distributors of your dead program and "convince" them to send you a free replacement disk. It's easy, it's fast, and it's painless. Mostly.

Finally, MafiaDOS provides complete VIRUS protection. If you unwittingly run a program that installs a virus on your disks, MafiaDOS puts out a "contract" on the virus. This causes all of your other programs to hunt down and, uh, "remove" the virus from your computer. The program that actually "removes" the virus is rewarded by having its priority bumped up to 5000.

Afterwards, MafiaDOS even tracks down the original creators of the virus and fills their floppy drives with cement.

Yes, MafiaDOS - the latest and greatest program from the creators of BLAZEMONGER XVII. Don't multitask without it. Or else.

Copyright 1991 by Daniel J Barrett. All right reserved. Used entirely without permission.

New Products

Magic Lantern

24 BIT REAL TIME ANIMATION PLAYBACK WITH SOUND SUPPORT

Magic Lantern is a program designed to create, edit and display delta compressed animations in real time. It takes as input IFF picture and sound files created from other sources (such as DPaint, Imagine, Lightwave, Real-3d, etc) and creates animations that run on various frame buffers in up to 24 bit color. Magic Lantern plays sound effects through the Amiga sound chip.

Once an animation is created, it can be edited; such editing might include adding or removing sound effects and frames, or moving frames around. All of these functions are accessible through a very friendly, Workbench 2.0 compliant graphical user interface, and/or an ARexx port. Lantern also provides a means to create animations that are larger than available memory, and a separate utility to play them back from disk.

The ARexx port was designed to allow the user to do anything that he/she could do through the graphical user interface; this allows the user to create powerful, automated scripts for batch processing or other uses which the developers of Lantern did not foresee.

Magic Lantern includes highly optimized assembly language routines for playing back animations on supported display devices, including frame buffers which store pixels in chunky format. The program also provides numerous compression options which allow the user to optimize animations for size, playback speed or both. Due to its modular nature, Magic Lantern can be updated to support new display devices as they become available.

Features:

Coming soon: Support for Spectrum, Picallo, Merlin and EGS.

Magic Lantern is now available from Terra Nova Development for $95 (US funds, check or money order), postpaid. California residents add $6.89 state sales tax.

Send orders to: Terra Nova Development, PO Box 2202 Ventura CA, 93002-2202

Requirements: Workbench 2.0 or greater. One megabyte of memory. Recommended: Hard Disk, more memory.

From Spectronics: Adorage

2D Animation Package

DISTRIBUTION

Spectronics International U.S.A.
Attn: Eddy Coopmans
34 East Main Street #23
Champaign, IL 61820 USA
Phone : +1 (217) 352-0061
Fax : +1 (217) 352-0063
BBS : +1 (217) 352-7627

DESCRIPTION

Adorage is a 2D animation package, offering a range of video-effects from simple fade-in and fade-out to more complex effects such as page-flips and explosions. Selection and implementation of these F/X is icon-driven and very easy. Adorage partially supports the SSA (super smooth animation) standard which allows the playback of animations up to 60 fields per second, and is AGA compatible. Adorage scene transitions are very fast due to algorithms developed for this purpose.

FEATURES

Workbench V2.X+, kickstart V2.04+, 3MB RAM, Hard disk

AVAILABILITY

Now shipping

PRICE

US$ 179.00

Clarissa

Clarissa Animation Player

U.S.A. DISTRIBUTION

Spectronics International U.S.A.

DESCRIPTION

Faster than any other anim-player, thanks to especially developed algorithms which are definable for different configurations. Clarissa automatically optimizes anims so that they can be played back at the highest possible speeds. The SSA animation format eliminates most of the problems normally encountered when playing back 2D and 3D animations (slow play back, jerky movement, etc)

FEATURES

This player is a CLI command, usable from within every multimedia package.

REQUIREMENTS

Workbench/Kickstart V2.04 or higher, 2MB RAM, accelerator

AVAILABILITY

Now shipping

PRICE

US$ 179.00

Beast III game review

by Rob Morton

PRODUCT NAME

Shadow of the Beast 3

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Shadow of the Beast 3 (known for the rest of this article as Beast 3) is a side scrolling action game with puzzles, just to keep the mind working.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: Psygnosis
Address: 29 Saint Mary's Court
Brookline, MA 02146 USA
South Harrington Street
Sefton Street
Liverpool, United Kingdom L3 4BQ
Telephone: (617) 731-3553 (USA) 051-709-5755 (UK)

LIST PRICE

Probably around $50.00.

COPY PROTECTION

Oh yeah. This game has disk based copy protection. I make backups of all my software using hardware copiers and compared to other Psygnosis games this was milder.

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

A2000, 3 Megs of RAM, Kickstart 1.3; A500, 1 Meg RAM, Kickstart 2.04; A1000, 512K RAM, Kickstart 1.2

REVIEW

Well, I hated the original Shadow Of The Beast, because it was just an arcade game with great graphics. Beast 2 had average graphics, with puzzles, but without using cheats it was way too hard. Beast 3 on the other hand seems to have the graphics and the puzzles. The puzzles start out easy and progressively get more difficult. It is the type of game that you can get better and the movements, so that the levels that are hard at first become easier to do later.

By getting easier with skill, it makes the game possible to complete, but makes the game not have as much replayability. You can see everything there is to see pretty quickly. I am not saying that it has no enjoyment after solving it, because I still enjoy playing it now, but I do not play it anywhere nearly as much as before.

Controlling your character is very easy. It is all joystick control except for switching between items, and that does not have to be done in the heat of battle. I think by the time they got to the third Beast game, Psygnosis learned all of the tricks to programming a well controlled character and still leaving the graphics speed and sound intact.

DOCUMENTATION

The manual is very well organized. It starts out with the story of what you have done so far, and what is still left to do. After this they explain the controls very well. That is about all the documentation, but it is also all that is needed.

LIKES AND DISLIKES

Well if it is not too obvious by now, I liked this game. It was fun. There are not that many games that I like; actually, when my computer is on I rarely play games. For some reason, I just enjoyed this one. I am not the most skilled player for strategy, and am not that quick on shooters, and I found this game well made for my game-playing ability. I love graphics, and this game has them. Some of the backgrounds were astonishing. I also liked the music. It did not get annoying like some games do.

The main thing I did not like was that it had disk based copy protection. This is an outdated concept that needs to be done away with. I will not buy a game that has it (my roommate owns Beast 3). It is also completely useless (I made backups of this game fairly easily). It should also be hard drive installable. The last thing that many people would probably like is for the game to be slightly harder and maybe longer. Longer I would like but not really harder.

For all future games, I hope Psygnosis either learns that people have hard drives, or starts putting its games on CD-ROM discs. This would make the games bigger, and left on one disk. i really hate disk swapping.

COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

This game has the graphics of Shadow of the Beast, and the puzzles from Shadow of the Beast 2. It is perfectly detailed. There really are no other games that have held my attention long enough to finish them, so I would have to say it is one of the best games I have played.

BUGS

None that I have found.

VENDOR SUPPORT

I never needed to talk to Psygnosis for anything.

WARRANTY

The warranty is that they guarantee the disks work, and are free from any viruses.

CONCLUSIONS

The game is great. I rate this game a 4 out of 5. If they removed the copy protection, then they would have had a 5.

Board Meeting

MEETING NOTES DECEMBER 11, 1993

The board meeting was called to order at 11:45 AM by Bob Nunn, President. Also present were Cheryn Nunn, Bill Bowers, Terry Campbell, and Charles Williams.

Discussion was held regarding the elections coming up in January. Each officer was polled whether he would be willing to serve again. Bill Bowers and Terry Campbell stated they would serve in their same capacities for the next year. Bob and Cheryn Nunn stated they would if no one else could be found to fill their offices. The search will continue for other club members willing to serve in an office.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Cheryn Nunn,
Vice President

PEGGER USERS

Sept. 25, 1993. We have discovered a bug in the program which could potentially destroy ANIM files created with the new Video Toaster 4000 or HAM8 animations in any of the various IFF ANIM formats.

Do not attempt to compress Toaster ANIM files in your framestore directory. If you are doing a batch compression of a framestore directory which contains ANIM files, remove those files from the framestore directory to a temporary location. Alternately, edit the batch compress file list and remove the ANIM files from the list before beginning the compression process. The same process applies to HAM8 format IFF ANIM files.

We apologize for this inconvenience but the bug has been found and is fixed. You can call the technical support hotline at 314-446-7017 and request an update disk. Also, for registered users, the update will be available on the Pegger Support BBS (314-474-0297).

Thank You.
Chris Minshall
Technical Support Engineer
Heifner Communications Inc.