Printer packages need adapting for Spectrum
AFTER A WAIT I received a ZX printer to add to my Spectrum. The manual with it told me that I must use the specially beefed-up power pack supplied. When 1 came to connect I found that it would not fit; the lead ends in a jack plug, whereas the Spectrum requires a hollow plug to fit over the pin in the socket. Also, since the manual gives programs only for the ZX-81 and there is no mention of the Spectrum, I concluded that I had been sent a package suited only for the ZX-81.
So I packed everything ready to return and telephoned Camberley. One of the best features of the Sinclair selling organisation is the pleasant and knowledgeable young woman on the end of the line there. She told me that I should use my existing Spectrum power pack - there is no mention of that anywhere else in the literature - and admitted that the manual was unsuitable. So although I have my printer, I have a dud manual and an unwanted second power pack, both suitable for the ZX-81, not the Spectrum, and for both of which I have paid.
The Sinclair organisation gives me the impression of being very fair to its customers in compensating for its failings. I suggest that the following action is now required:
A buy-back of the redundant ZX-81 power packs supplied to Spectrum owners who ordered ZX printers.
The supply of appropriate manuals to those people.
That future orders for ZX printers should specify whether they are for the Spectrum or the ZX-81. Spectrum orders would be fulfilled by the ZX printer and suitable manual only - no power pack - with an appropriate reduction in cost.
P G New
Sinclair Research says that it is considering the points made, adding that the printer is supplied as a complete product and it is not possible to split the package depending on the intended use. Removal of the power supply would have only minimal effect on price and at present would lead to confusion in the fulfilment of orders.
I WOULD like to make three comments about the J K Greye Software 3D Monster Maze program.
The program instruction says that the maze exit is at the end of a cul-de-sac and that the generated maze is always formed in corridors.
I found the exit in a corridor once. As it was not at the proper place, it has twice raised from nowhere on my screen. I found a great open space in the maze. Information provided by the program was incorrect because in the reality Rex would be able to see me but the program said "Footsteps approaching" until the last two moves of T Rex - i.e., too late for me.
I regret that a £5 or £6 program in Britain is sold for nearly £14 in France. Is the Channel such a large sea to justify such a surcharge, even with tax surcharges? That fact must induce illegal copying and selling.
I would like to ask firms in the U.K. to include overseas packaging surcharges in their advertisements.
Finally, I am looking for a pen friend with whom I shall be able to swap ideas and programs. I am ready to make contact with anybody, wherever he may be in the world.
When will the Spectrum with a built-in SECAM colour system modulator be sold? From time to time the French computing press speaks about the Sinclair pocket TV. Will it be ready soon in Britain? Will it soon be sold in France?
I have read your magazine since June, 1982 and it is super great.
Perceval de Montarby
Education sales higher
AS THE MAJOR distributor of Sinclair personal computer products to education and the sole distributor of equipment on the Department of Industry scheme, my company has been distributing SRL products for more than two years. The article, headed Spectrum school sales slow, may well cause some people to misunderstand the well-established sales procedure for education. I should like to take the opportunity to explain some details.
Griffin & George was appointed as educational distributor soon after the launch of the ZX-80. As we had been dealing with the supply of science equipment for education for many years, we could supply SRL products using our established invoicing-after-delivery procedure. That has remained the case for the ZX-81 and the Spectrum.
As educational distributor, Griffin £ George provides a range of hardware accessories and software specifically to support the product in education. We also have a large technical and sales staff to run exhibitions and training workshops. It is obviously cheaper for teachers to benefit from that rather than having to provide the resource within individual local education activities.
Unlike either of the other machines in the DoI scheme, our customers or the local education authority do not need stocks of expensive spare parts and to have skilled, expensive technicians to fit them. Griffin £ George administrates any repair procedure, normally manifested as a rapid one-for-one exchange.
As to the rate of sales to schools, they are exceptionally high and not, as your headline may suggest, slow.
R M Lovett, Microelectronics manager
Tips for postal selling
WITH REFERENCE to your reader's letter in the February issue, I would like to make the following points about my company:
All orders are despatched within 24 hours or less from the time of receipt.
We can do that only because of our policy of not advertising or taking orders for products which are not available from stock.
That sometimes means upsetting advertisement managers of various magazines who like to book space at least three months in advance.
A product must be shown to be fully working before taking orders, i.e., not a prototype or mock-up.
Enquiries take time; as the customer has not paid for time spent orders come first. Second, customers not sending SAEs will go to the bottom of the pile.
The best thing is to telephone and ask whether the product is ready if you send your money today. Send a SAE with any enquiry and with a legible address and, if possible, a telephone number, as it is often cheaper to telephone than post a letter.
Scrolling made easier
A FEATURE lacking on the Spectrum is the SCROLL command. Although substitutions have been published for it, involving POKEing and PRINTing, I believe my solution is much neater. Simply by calling the USR routine, USR 3280, a scroll of one line is performed with no fuss.
I hope this will be of some use to your readers and I congratulate a magazine which improves with age rather than being thinner with time.
Code junkies are usually male
J E M FRADGLEY - letters, February 1983 - should not worry about her daughter. My articles on Code Junkies - December 1982 - took a male stance simply because our female students appear to be immune from the addiction. Why is not clear and a straw poll in our department produced suggestions that girls complete adolescence earlier, are under less parental pressure, lead a more active social life at university, or simply show a higher innate level of common sense.
Our own experience shows that our female students are far more likely to get good degrees in computer science.
C F Reynolds
I PURCHASED a 48K Spectrum and programmed the Sinclair Hangman. It did not work and Sinclair admits an error.
I ordered 10 cassettes and only two arrived. One will not load.
I decided to program Dam Buster. Can anyone tell me what line 135, graphic E means, or line 2000 graphic D. Am I the only idiot playing with a Spectrum?
You appear to have been more unfortunate than most with your new machine. To help your understanding of our listing system; because the reproductions of the graphics characters can be confusing, we have tried to make it easier to enter them by denoting which key should be pressed.
Instead of printing a black blob we indicate that it is an inverse space. Your query involves the user-defined graphics which are entered by going into graphics mode and pressing, in line 135, the E key. When the program is run it will appear as the character which has been defined in another part of the program.
I BOUGHT a Spectrum and am experiencing some difficulty tuning it in to my TV set. Often to get a respectable picture it has to be tuned so that the display is in black and white. If tuned to be in colour, the lettering is very wavy and not at all clear. I have tried it on other sets and it would appear to be satisfactory.
I am told that it may be incompatible with the TV set. Can that be so and what can be done about it?
The set is a Hitachi CAP-162 colour portable.
G P Glover
A small number of television sets appear incompatible with the Spectrum, resulting from problems which occur with the exchange of signals which produce the television display. Sinclair Research is investigating the problem in detail and has said it can advise customers or potential customers. The Spectrum could be retuned but that would make it incompatible with other television sets.
Finding a better beep
AS A SINCLAIR addict I have bought every copy of your magazine since issue one in April, 1982 and would like to congratulate you on an excellent publication.
My ZX-81 has since passed on and I now have a 16K Spectrum - not without the usual difficulties, I might add. I would like to raise two points which may be of interest to 16K Spectrum users:
The first entry I always make at the start of a programming session is POKE 23609,100. The difference it makes to the keyboard beep is amazing and I cannot imagine why it was not built into the ROM.
I was tempted to enter Pontoon published in your January, 1983 edition, despite the fact that it was written for 48K. I was able to do this by omitting the playing instructions in lines 220-290 inclusive and the excellent program now runs faultlessly on my 16K.
WITH REFERENCE to John Gilbert's continuous series on good programming, may I make a suggestion? If a safeguard against an invalid numeric input is incorporated in line 1050, or after, together with any desired message to the user, it is then possible to replace lines 300 to 700 with the single statement:
GO SUB 1000 ÷ (VAL A$*1000)
That is surely nearer to good programming than a series of time- and memory-consuming, unnecessary IF ... THEN statements. What would he have done with, say, 30 subroutines? The mind boggles.
THANK YOU for your excellent review of our arcade game Scramble. We would like to point out that the correct price is £5.50 plus 40p p£p. Also we would like to point out that the correct price for Sorcerer's Castle is £5.50 and not £6.50 as printed in the club offer.
M Meek, Mikrogen