Defective Disks And Multi-Copies

By Thomas Boustead

Originally published in EUG #18

Thanks for the replacement EUG #15 and EUG #16 which clearly went 'walkabout' under the auspices of the Royal Mail. As I have previously noted, I had difficulty in loading EUG #15 and believed the cause to be the imprecise positioning of the mask such that it totally obscured the notch to its right in the top edge of the plastic container. It would seem that in the case of this disk and others I have received from you, the travel to the masked position is intended to be limited by the edge of the raised surface of the plastic. I have examined a number of 'branded' disks, e.g. TDK, 3M and Sony amongst others and find the travel is limited by the 'blind' end of the slot in which the lug of the mask slides.

In 'unbranded' disks, I find this slot is open-ended. If the edge of the raised surface of the plastic is well-defined and the mask is well-formed then the problem is unlikely to arise. However, I do feel it is a wise precaution to check the travel of the mask on a disk not previously used by the recipient. I am not conversant with the internals of the Acorn Plus 3 and am therefore unable to judge the consequences of a determined attempt to insert a disk in which the mask is too far to the right. I also have no intention of opening up my Plus 3 to pursue the investigation any further!!

Multi-Copies and Michael Harris' Problem

I have been in touch with Michael and understand he is now satisfied that the program published in EUG #6 does work! I believe the problem arose from the assumption in the instructions that users would be familiar with how to switch between View and BASIC and vice-versa by the commands *BASIC and *WORD. I have revised the procedure as follows and trust that all users will find the program as simple to use and as useful as I do; I often have a requirement for around 125 copies of each of a number of full pages of text and I find that I can escape to do other things whilst the printer dutifully churns out the requisite number.

There is one small point concerning the number to be inserted in line 220 - if you feel very 'green' and do not wish to waste a single sheet of paper then please note that the first page is 0 so that if you need 30 copies the figure to go in line 220 is 29.

The Procedure for using MULTI-COPIES program 'numcopy':

  • Insert View cartridge and switch on computer and printer
  • Insert disk containing 'numcopy' and key CTRL-A-BREAK simultaneously to *MOUNT the disk
  • Type *BASIC (RETURN)
  • Type LOAD "numcopy" (RETURN)
  • LIST 220 (RETURN)
  • Change line 220 to show the number of copies required
  • RUN the program. The *COPIES program will be generated
  • Remove the disk and insert the one containing text to be printed
  • *MOUNT this new disk
  • Type *WORD (RETURN)
  • Type LOAD name of text file
  • Type *FX 6 0 (to ensure a line feed is obtained if not already ordained by dip switch) (RETURN)
  • Key ESCAPE and check that the text you wish to print is correct and ready. Key ESCAPE again to return to Command Mode
  • Type *COPIES and RETURN. The printer should now run to produce the number of copies specified. If you are using a Printer Driver as well (See EUG #6) and have put highlights in your text then load the driver before typing *COPIES

For convenience, I always transfer a copy of 'numcopy' to each disk I use for View text and RUN it to generate *COPIES. This saves time, reduces the chance of error in disk exchange AND should you wish to print the same number of copies as the immediately preceding batch of some other unrelated text on the same disk, it's merely necessary to type *COPIES again.

If you have more than one page of related text and use the PE command, the *COPIES program will assume the related pages to be one copy.

If you are producing small slips for distribution around the Parish, for example to announce the next jumble sale, then indicate the Page Length to suit (usually a factor of 66) and the *COPIES program will count the number of Page Lengths - you then have to find a helper to cut up the sheets of paper! However, for this type of printing, I would think that a BASIC program as opposed to use of View would be more suitable and of course is the only method available to those not having a word-processing ROM. It involves the use of the BASIC keywords FOR and NEXT. In the second part of this letter, I will risk scorning the more sophisticated Electroneers by offering a program as a useful example of a small slip (with apologies to Gus!)...

A Very Basic BASIC Program

        10 VDU2
        20 *FX6,0
        30 FOR N = 1 TO 5
        40 VDU1,27,1,79
        50 VDU1,27,1,112,1,49
        60 VDU1,27,1,59
        70 PRINT"Electron User Group"'"25, Bertie Road"'"Southsea"'"HAMPS
        HIRE"'"PO4 8JX"'" "'" "'" "'" "
        80 NEXT N
        90 VDU3
       100 END

Line 10 tells the printer to sit up and take notice.

Line 20 ensures a linefeed.

Line 30 identifies the number of times the program should run.

Lines 40, 50 and 60 specify the style of the characters to be printed. These lines may be changed to suit your printer or omitted.

Line 70 spells out the text to be printed and its layout. Beware of the apostrophes - they are important in obtaining the 'footer margin' to match text to a nine line spacing as used for fanfold labels. If drafting a straight text then a series of "'"s following the end of the text are necessary to provide cutting space between copies.

Remember that when using BASIC, a line must not be longer than 240 characters but there isn't a restriction on the number of LINEs so you can, by carefully composing your text, produce a lengthy document or even vary the style of printed lines by the use of lines such as 40, 50 and 60 above. In order to present a good printed text, it is important to break up the text in the program into 80 character segments (i.e. a printed line). So if you do not have a word processor, try the foregoing. It's a minor challenge, and someone in the community might just appreciate your help in their public relations. See the 'useless' example later.

Line 80 calls for the re-run of the program to print the next copy up to 5.

Line 90 tells the printer it is finished with for the present - if you omit this line the printer will print everything that appears on the screen thereafter!

This small program exercise could help you to get your next five submissions off to Gus in good time.

An Alternative Program Example (But otherwise useless!)

        10 VDU2
        20 *FX6,0
        30 FOR N = 1 TO 5
        40 VDU1,27,1,14
        60 PRINT" The Group will meet in the Village School Hall"
        70 PRINT" at 11.00am on Saturday 1st April and extends a"
        80 PRINT" warm welcome to all new owners who wish to join"
        90 PRINT" them to learn what can be achieved with the"
       100 PRINT" humble Elk. For info. call 01234-5678"'" "'" "'" "
       110 NEXT N
       120 VDU3
       130 END

NB. The printer code in line 40 is self-cancelling after printing line 50.

A last unrelated point is that just prior to Christmas, a large number of adverts in the local press and in other minor publications indicated Electrons and cassette recorders were doing a brisk trade. If you have a printer and a printer controller but lack a disk drive, you can do a good job with TAPE and in the case of short items, you will find it almost as fast as disk! You should not have problems playing back your own recordings. I presume Gus is still providing printed copies of EUG to readers who don't have disk drives.

Thomas Boustead

Thanks for the info, Tom.

I must emphasise to everyone the importance of checking all disks - including EUG ones - before putting them into your drive. Also, if your disk is damaged, the please return it and I will send you a replacement.

As you say, Electrons do still have a market. Sometimes prices are a bit ridiculous so do shop around.

EUG is not produced on paper any more partly because of cost but also because much of the content is rather unsuitable for print being long programs and such. For those without a disk drive, EUG is available on tape although patience and perseverance is needed with this format.

Gus Donnachaidh, EUG #18