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Your IBM Computer, Feb-1984

by Lloyd Borrett
Your Computer, February 1984

In a last minute update to the January 1984 column, I managed to include details of where to get a catalogue of the forty volumes which currently make up the PC Blue Library. The arrangements for distributing PC/Blue Library volumes have finally been completed.

The catalogue, which contains a table of contents and brief descriptions of the files, is available, postpaid, for $10.00. The price of each volume is also $10.00, which includes the disk and copying. Do not send disks in lieu of payment. Add $5.00 for postage and handling with each order requesting disks. The address for orders is:

PC/Blue Library,
C/- PC Connection Australia,
8/34 Elizabeth Street
Elsternwick 3185.

Make your money order or cheque payable To PC Connection Australia. All orders for catalogues and disks must be prepaid. This is a non-profit distribution service only. No arrangements have been made for handling contributions.

What's available? For full details you will have to obtain the catalogue, but the following list gives a brief summary of the contents of each disk.


001 Misc. utilities, Mods to IBM Async Comms support (CP/M-80)

002 MicroSoft MBASIC games

003 MicroSoft MBASIC programs (mostly games)

004 MicroSoft MBASIC

005 MicroSoft Trek Programs in MBASIC

006 General Ledger, Monstrous Startrek (MBASIC)


008 Miscellaneous FORTRAN programs

009 EBASIC Compiler/Interpreter (CP/M)

010 Monstrous EBASIC Startreks

011 EBASIC games

012 EBASIC programs (mostly games)

013 Original Adventure - 350 points (CP/M)

014 Bob Van Valzah's "Pascal Pascal Compiler" (CP/M)

015 ALGOL-M Compiler/Interpreter and programs (CP/M)

016 Miscellaneous utilities EBASIC, MBASIC (CP/M)

017 Miscellaneous utilities EBASIC, MBASIC (CP/M)

018 Communications package (PC-TALK), PACMAN2, and PC Notes

019 DataBase package (PC-FILE)

020 Remote Bulletin Board System and miscellaneous utilities

021 Cross Reference Utility and Front-End Interface Utility (Monitor)

022 Expanding Lister Utility for BASIC programs

023 Rational BASIC (RATBASE) and miscellaneous utilities

024 BASIC games

025 BASIC games

026 8087 Sampler Programs

027 KERMIT - PC/Mainframe Host Communications (1 of 2)

028 KERMIT - (2 of 3)

029 Miscellaneous BASIC programs

030 Miscellaneous Application Systems

031 PC-Talk III (supersedes vol 18)

032 PC-Talk III Documentation

033 Miscellaneous Applications

034 dBase and SuperCalc templates

035 Miscellaneous BASIC utilities

036 IBM Keyboard Drill System

037 Modem7/IBM, Program Control System, Wordstar modifications, miscellaneous utilities

038 Disk directory utilities, Squish REMarks, Lotus 1-2-3 modifications

039 Screen editor, Primitive Word Processor, Memo Minder, History Drill, Multiplication Drill

040 EPISTAT-Statistical Package, miscellaneous communications utilities.

All programs on volumes two to 17 were extracted from the SIG.M and CPMUG libraries. These programs are supplied with MS-DOS (PC-DOS) file headers, so they can be read by MS-DOS. A few are in Z-80 (or 8080) .COM format.

This library is rapidly growing in size (there are at least five more volumes still on their way to Oz). I shall attempt to keep you informed of the latest developments via this column.

Members of the Melbourne PC Users Group and the IBM-PC S.A. Users Group will be able to obtain PC/Blue volumes from the group's librarian. Other user groups wanting to distribute these volumes to their members should contact PC Connection Australia.

Lotus 1-2-3 User Association

About 60 people attended the first meeting of The Lotus 1-2-3 User Association early in December 1983. The association is Melbourne-based and has been established to provide members with access to expert advice on how to get the maximum benefit from Lotus 1-2-3.

For further details contact:

Lotus 1-2-3 Users Association,
Box 4720 Spencer Street,
Melbourne 3001.

Intending and existing users of Lotus 1-2-3 should make a point of contacting the association. If the first meeting is anything to go by, future meetings and newsletters should be well worth the subscription fees.

Unprotecting Lotus 1-2-3

From the numerous calls I've received, it appears there is more than one version of Lotus 1-2-3 Release 1A around. The modification I described in the January issue only works on one of these versions, thus making the following modified procedure necessary:

-U ABA9 (you should see INT 13 at that address)
-E AEA9 90 90
Writing 15F00 bytes

If you don't see INT 13 at address ABA9, then the above patch will not work on your version.

But help has arrived. One of The PC/ Blue Volumes I received recently contains a file which describes two Lotus 1-2-3 patches. Apparently The patch already given is for the newer version of Lotus 1-2-3. For the older version you should proceed as follows:

-S DS:100 FFFF E8 BE 71
-E 3666 90 90 90

If that doesn't work you will just have to continue to shuffle system diskettes in and out. I have not been able to test it personally, but this is important enough to publish anyway.

Please note that the purpose of these patches is to allow you to run Lotus 1-2-3 with greater flexibility. This is not intended for 'pirating' of proprietary software.

Diskette Reliability

If you have reliability problems with your PC, there is every chance that the diskette drives are the culprits. The 13 cm diskette drives have long been the nemesis of microcomputer owners. We should take some comfort in IBM's decision to use 48 TPI drives instead of the even more problem prone 96 TPI drives.

Some experts say the technology required to produce these drives is simply too complex and delicate for mass production which is aimed at both low cost and dependability and for service in an uncontrolled environment. The problem is not peculiar to the Tandon and CDC drives used in the IBM-PC, other micro owners are in the same boat. So, what can the users do?

First, protect yourself against the potential loss of data associated with a failure. Use only good quality diskettes. Cheap, unreliable diskettes are a false economy. I've been using Verbatim Datalife diskettes for over a year without any media related problems (touch wood), but I'm sure other manufacturers have comparable products. Set up an effective set of back-up procedures and follow them religiously. If you do not have at least one back-up copy of each of your data and program diskettes, you are asking for trouble.

There are two ways to create a backup diskette from a formatted diskette. DISKCOPY is generally the command to use because it creates an exact image, it is fast and it can format an unformatted diskette as it copies. Remember that DISKCOMP should be used immediately after DISKCOPY, to ensure the integrity of the copy diskette.

If a diskette has defective tracks (reported from formatting) or has had a large amount of file creation/erasure activity, it is recommended that you use COPY *.*. Copy *.* copies one file after the other and causes a new File Allocation Table (FAT) to be made. This may result in space saving.

Second, treat diskettes with the care they demand. Read and obey the manufacturer's guidelines. If anything happens to a diskette, such as bending it or having something spilt on it, discard it immediately and get out a back-up copy. If you put a damaged or contaminated diskette in the drive, you run the risk of damaging the read/write heads.

Third, keep the heads of the diskette drives clean. The frequency of cleaning will depend on frequency of system use and quality level of the diskettes used. A new diskette used in a drive will clean heads because of the wiping action, but it often doesn't clean adequately.

For preventative maintenance you should periodically use a cleaning diskette. The cleaning diskette is made of a white, non-abrasive, fibrous material. Just follow the manufacturer's instructions. Do not try other types of cleaning, such as scrubbing the heads with a swab.

Fourth, have your diskette drives serviced regularly. The engineer will check for head damage and misalignment. While many factors effect the frequency of servicing, I would suggest a minimum of once a year.

Apart from a good vacuuming inside the system unit and printer, there is little other preventative maintenance required on the IBM-PC.

Last modified: Saturday, 15 October 2011


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