John Gilbert has some harsh words for Sinclair's QL backup services
THE LAUNCH of the 128 may have got you jittery about the future of the QL, but Sinclair Research is committed to the 68000 chip and will continue to produce machines which use it.
The QL User Club is still in existence as is the advice hotline for enquiries about the Psion business packages which has been renamed Psion Support. The demarcation lines for help are blurred but it is generally understood that if Sinclair can wriggle out of answering technical queries it will. After all there's always Psion or Sinclair User.
Sinclair is responsible for supplying updates of the Psion packages. Psion doesn't have copies so don't write to them. The company does, however, run a telephone hotline for people who have problems using Quill, Archive, Abacus and Easel. The telephone number is supplied when you join QLUB, applications for which are in the QL package when you buy it.
When you contact Psion with a query, your identity number is processed through the company's VAX - to make sure you are a member. Your query is then fed into the computer which cross references all similar problems which have occurred in the past and prints out the solutions if there are any. If the answer is not known a solution is found by the Psion engineers and the computer database updated.
Answers can also be sought by mail. Just fill in one of the Psion Questionnaire forms and send it off. Those are processed by the computer which prints out several courses of action.
So, what has Sinclair got to equal Psion's valiant effort? A phone call to Sinclair headquarters will prove frustrating in the extreme. More than likely there will be no-one available to give you help, technical or otherwise. One other tip. Don't bother phoning the company's shipping department at Camberley. It's continuously engaged for some reason.
One area of QLUB which Sinclair has managed to get right is QLUB News. It is a slim black and white publication and resembles an advertising sheet giving details of new products. The news section of the magazine, which is supposed to come straight from the heart of Sinclair, is invariably three months behind the times. The editor could certainly tighten his belt.
Of the two main QL Clubs - IQLUG was covered in last month's issue of Sinclair User - QLUB is the poor relation, although it shouldn't be. QLUB membership is free, whereas membership of IQLUG is by subscription to its magazine Quanta. If Sinclair wants to run a Club it should do so properly - I'm sure we'd all pay extra for such a facility - your reactions please.
Transform has decided to take the QL under its belt with three new programs ranging in price from £20 to £60.
If you run a small business you will have noticed the lack of mailing list facilities on both Quill and Archive. Mailing List allows you to store and retrieve names and addresses using Archive. Data files can be exported to Quill.
It is compatible with Transform's Stock Control program which costs £14.95. It will keep a record of stock items indexed under retail price, trade price, minimum order level and items on order.
The Payroll package - the only one of its kind, I believe - calculates weekly, monthly, and four-weekly payrolls. It handles all tax calculations, coin analysis and payment rounding.
If you are looking for a good text adventure, other than the Pawn and can take the shabby purple cassette inlay then QL Nemesis will appeal.
It's a space adventure with an original plot - well, for the QL anyway. Taking your twin-engined craft into the depths of space you must capture the most wanted man in the universe - Sir Clive.
The game can be obtained from TEC Publications for £13.95. A review will appear in QLink, next month.
Mailing List £14.95, Stock Control £14.95, Pay Roll £63.25. Transform Ltd.
QL Nemesis £13.95, TEC Publications.