Politics in perspective
AS A SUBSCRIBER to your magazine I have found it interesting and informative, including the articles, advertisements and letters from other readers. I am very concerned about a letter included in the June issue. The daily and local newspapers are full of letters expounding ill-informed political views and I was surprised that such a letter should appear in your magazine.
I hope in the future you restrict the letters you publish to technical and commercial issues and leave the political rubbish to the newspapers.
I FELT bound to write to reply to the inaccurate letter which appeared in June Sinclair User from J R Murray-Bligh.
The present Government attitude to education is appalling. It has done less than any previous Government in history to bring teachers' pay into line with inflation which Murray-Bligh does not bring to the fore. Instead of concentrating on the majority of students, which most sensible governments would do it, it favours private and grammar school education - the elite few. That is also true where computers are concerned.
Instead of incorporating them within subjects to use in conjunction with what should be much better teaching facilities, the Government runs specific courses for those showing a high mathematical ability. There is very little done to make real use of them, i.e., helping to "sell" the particular subject to the majority of pupils.
I therefore conclude that the present Government's attitude to the role of computers in education is open to much and very justified criticism.
I am very impressed by the high standard set by your magazine, embodied in the excellent and varied articles run on a regular basis. Keep up the good work.
Secrets of the Alchemist
AFTER READING all the letters printed in Sinclair User about different topics I thought I would write and say that I have completed The Alchemist after days of hard thinking. To help other readers I have stated some clues to try and help those who cannot defeat the Evil Warlock.
They are: the chest leads to the scroll of destiny; the restore spell should be used a lot; use the lead, lamp, ring and vase wisely; and finally the lead, the transform spell and the chest turn to gold.
Mark Sharry, aged 14
Pensioner wins pools
ONE OF the main points you stress in User of the Month is the age of the person you are interviewing. So it may interest you to learn that I am nearly 72 and have been pounding a computer for just a year. This leads me to pose you a question. Can I qualify for being the oldest Spectrum user and owner? Can anyone else lay claim to that title?
Six months after buying my machine I composed my first program, a Pools Forecaster. It rewarded me by winning more than £200 and since then I have had several small wins, so you know why my face is aglow when I speak to people about buying a Spectrum.
I WOULD like to inform readers of an incompatibility between the Sinclair Interface One/Microdrive and the Kempston E interface. The Kempston interface apparently intercepts the messages from computer to Microdrive and vice versa and changes the information, thus causing a "Hook code error".
Unfortunately the method is used by the excellent Campbell Systems Masterfile. I contacted Campbell Systems and I was told that the error was caused by a fault in the Kempston interface EPROM. Kempston has now offered to fit a switch to rectify the fault. I hope that my experience will help other Spectrum users with an Interface One.
M A Burley
Readers and their robots
I FIND Sinclair User of a most high quality but even so I think it could be improved with regular articles on robotics. I am sure that there are many people who are interested in this field of computers and articles with simple projects such as building simple robots and buggies would be very helpful.
If there is no room to print such an item at the present time, could you please send me details of where to get information on robotics and the like? I hope that you will take the suggestion into consideration.
Perhaps you should read our sister magazine, Practical Robotics. It is published every other month and is available from newsagents or direct from ECC Publications, London.
I REFER to the review of the Rainbow Electronics Spectrum programmable joystick interface in Hardware World in the June issue. While we may no doubt be accused of bias, I do, perhaps inevitably, disagree with almost all the points made in it.
I am glad that the review made the point that the interface is competitively priced at £24, since to have a sound boost at the same price as similar interfaces without it must be excellent value.
It is true that a few people have found the interface difficult to program but the vast majority have found the opposite, even with only two hands rather than the three your reviewer suggested it was necessary to have.
In reply to the point that the product could have been better made, it happened that Sinclair User had the very first interface to leave the premises and a few modifications and improvements have been made since that time.
We have had few interfaces returned and those despatched in the first days of production are still working satisfactorily. The few which have been returned have been repaired when necessary and sent back promptly.
I believe that we have an excellent product and, while I am sorry that all do not agree, I am glad that most do.
Dorian Ferdinando, Rainbow Electronics
Keeping up with the times
I HAVE enjoyed Sinclair User for some time and may well continue to subscribe to it but it has now reached the point that mentally I knock six weeks to two months off the current date before reading a news item.
Two instances may be enough to show you what I mean. The issue I received about two weeks after the QL announcement did not mention it. Worse, you featured an article saying the Timex marketing of the U.S. version of the Spectrum was going well. Your article was published weeks after Timex had announced its withdrawal from that market and after Uncle Nigel had flown to the U.S. to try to pick up the bits. You have bruised your credibility - a priceless business asset but only if you can demonstrate that you value it.
The daily press presents news of yesterday and the day before. With a little effort, the monthly press - even if it follows the deplorable practice of dating its issues with the month after publication, purely because its lesser competitors do so - should be able to feature important items two weeks old.
Printing of Sinclair User begins three weeks before it arrives on the street to allow time for distribution. Consequently our news items are, despite our best efforts, sometimes outdated by subsequent events. The Timex story in issue 25 is one example. The alternative would be to print no news stories but we feel that would be depriving readers of a useful information service.
You are, however, mistaken about the QL announcement. Less than a week after the new computer was launched on January 12, our February issue appeared with news of the announcement. The story was written before the launch when Sinclair Research was able to confirm that the QL was about to appear. Sinclair User was one of the first computer publications, weeklies included, to publish the story.
Sinclair in translation
I AM awaiting delivery of a QL. The intention is to use it as the basis for full-time home employment, utilising my knowledge of Russian and Polish languages. Initially, I have in mind two applications. They are transcription of foreign language dictionaries from printed book format to a computer-based referral system and translation of Russian journals and periodicals, supplying the results to a computer-based information provider.
Any assistance and advice would be invaluable. In particular, how to use QL-based equipment for my purpose, addresses of publishers and information providers; details of subscription fees, who to contact and which modem facilities I should have are, of course, also desirable.
K M Jones
Wanted: girl, own Spectrum
I WANT to ask why the special offers in your magazine always are for U.K. readers only?
I am looking for a pen girl friend with whom I can swap ideas and programs. I am ready to make contact with any girl, wherever she may be in the world. She has only to own a Spectrum.
De Keuleneire Danny, aged 19
The reason many of our offers apply only to U.K. readers is because we cannot calculate a list of prices applicable to all overseas customers. Enquiries from such customers are welcome and we will try to calculate prices on individual items.
Star gazers are insulted
I WOULD bring to your notice an error of serious consequence in the May issue of Sinclair User.
In the review of ZX-81 software - Blast from the Past - you describe the program Ephemeris by Bridge Software as "an astrology program" and repeat the error later.
Astrology pertains to the doubtful practice of fortune telling and I would suggest that most of the people partaking thereof would not know the difference between sidereal time and lunchtime.
I suggest that you apologise to all astronomers who may read your magazine, as I have no doubt that they will feel insulted by being coupled with those addicts of the Zodiac.
F L Harland
ON TYPING in and running one of your reader's programs which had two sets of user-defined graphics, I found the delay in the graphics exchange made the program slow and annoying. The reader used RESTORE and two sets of DATA statements with a FOR ... NEXT loop with READ and POKE in the loop. That used a good deal of space and you could soon run out of memory with a 16K Spectrum.
I have designed a small machine code routine which makes the transfer of two sets of graphics almost instantaneous. To work it, type in the program from list one and RUN it, then DELETE the lines from list one. Do not NEW the program. You can then make your own first set of UDGs or load them from tape. Next test your graphics and when you are satisfied type RANDOMISE USR 32300; you will find your first set of graphics has disappeared. At this stage it is advisable to save the graphics and the M/CODE by SAVE graphics CODE 32300,201. You can then make your second set of graphics; when they are correct you can either save them by the usual method, i.e., SAVE GRAPHICS CODE USR "A",168 or you can save the lot with SAVE "GRAPHICS" CODE 32300,467.
LIST ONE 1 CLEAR 32299 FOR 2 REM M/CODE UDG TRANSFER 3 FOR A=32300 TO 32332 20 READ B 30 POKE A,B 40 NEXT A 50 DATA 192,229,213,245,42,123,92,17,77,126, 6,168,126,245,26,119,241,18,35,19,5,120,254, 0,40,2,24,240,241,209,225,192,201
You then have two "pages" of UDGs which you can switch from within a Basic program by using the command RANDOMISE USR 32300.
I include an assembler listing for a 48K machine.
M D Wood
LIST TWO 10 REM ORG #7E2C 20 REM 30 REM PUSH BC ;STORE ALL 40 REM PUSH HL ;REGISTERS 50 REM PUSH DE ;USED 60 REM PUSH AF 70 REM LD HL,(#5C7B) ;UDG 80 REM LD DE,#7E4D ;STORE 90 REM LD B,168 ;COUNT 100 REM LD A,(HL) 120 REM PUSH AF 130 REM LD A,(DE) 140 REM LD (HL),A 150 REM POP AF 160 REM LD (DE),A 170 REM INC HL 180 REM INC DE 190 REM DEC B 200 REM LD A,B 210 REM CP 0 220 REM JR Z,END 230 REM JR LOOP 240 REM END **** 250 REM POP AF 260 REM POP DE 270 REM POP HL 280 REM POP BC 290 REM RET
Hints for Jet Setters
OUR THANKS to all who have sent letters revealing hints and tips for Jet Set Willy from Software Projects. First, infinite lives. To obtain immortality, load the program with MERGE "", stop the tape, and ENTER: 37 POKE 35899,0. Then ENTER: GO TO 10 and re-start the tape. L Griffiths, Ian Rogers and David Pagett sent that tip.
Pagett also tells of a way of disabling the sprite graphics to render the mansion virtually trouble-free. Using the preceding method, add the line: 35 FOR F=40000 TO 40191: POKE F,0:NEXT F: FOR F=43780 TO 46595: POKE F,0:NEXT F:FOR F=46845 TO 49178:POKE F,0:NEXT F.
Jonathan Cheetham discovered a means of gaining access to all rooms. First, guide Willy to the first landing and position him between the stairs and the entrance to 'To the Kitchens'. Then type WRITETYPER. Press key 9 and you should appear in the off-licence. Holding down combinations of keys 1-6 with key 9 should, according to Cheetham, transport you to other rooms. For example, 239 gets you to the entrance to Hades.
Neil Gore and Viv Shadbolt have both discovered the secret 'passages'. Try jumping off the Watchtower or rescuing Esmerelda to find yourself in the off-licence or Ball Room East respectively.
Finally, the last word should go to Software Projects. Now that the game has been won - see news story - the company has revealed a means of bypassing the so-called bug which involved instant death in several locations after visiting the Attic.
It was not a bug at all but a deliberate attempt to make the game even more difficult in the later stages. To negate the feature, load the first part of the program with MERGE "". Then ENTER: CLEAR 32767 and LOAD "" CODE. Start the tape. When the main program has loaded, ENTER: POKE 60231,0 POKE 42183,11 POKE 59901,82 and POKE 56876,4. To play the new version, ENTER: GO TO 40. To save the new version, ENTER: SAVE "JETSET" LINE 10 and SAVE "JSW" CODE 32768,32768.
Gratitude is also due to Stephen Miles, Graham McMahon and all others whose tips and advice we have been unable to print for lack of space. Their frenzied dedication to the great game humbles us all.