DAS FLOPPY ARBEITSBUCH by Richard Karsmakers
About one or two months ago, Sybex announced the launch of a book
for people that want to get the most out of their disk drives.
The book is supplied with hard cover on 168 pages, together with
a so-called Power Disk. The book is written in German. It costs
DM 69,- (together with the disk) and can be bought through Sybex
Verlag GmbH, Vogelsanger Weg 111, 4000 Düsseldorf 30, West
Germany. Tel. 0211/618020. ISBN 3-88745-642-4, written by Peter
Maier, Ralf Stöpper and Frank Aumann.
The book immediately starts with an explanation of some general
specifications of the Atari disk drives, that are normally also
contained in your disk drive's manual. However, on page 8 the
writers already start writing about Frequency Modulation and
Modified Frequency Modulation (the ways in which actual bits are
written down using magnetic pulses on a diskette), which I think
is a bit too much for any beginner. They immediately start
working in hex, binary, and are talking about a whole lot of
technical terms, varying from GAP to Cyclic Redundancy Checks.
This makes the book a bit difficult for most beginners, so I
would not recommend it to most people. If you are one of these
nutty floppy freaks (like me), however, the book supplies you
with a healthy dose (or more like an overdose) of information.
The writers came to the stunning idea to print out a documented
TOS booter listing (in assembly language, of course), as well as
a lot of sample programs of how to program the disk drive from
XBIOS, BIOS or GEMDOS. The book is, to say the least, very
comprehensive; it covers most of the disk drives' topics, from
FDC programming (direct programming of the Floppy Disk
Controller), working with DMA (Direct Memory Access), bugs in the
XBIOS and lots more, to even a list of addresses of important
routines and variables used by the Operating System in different
TOS versions (V0.13, V0.19 and ROM TOS).
Chapter 7 of the book is entirely devoted to the Power Disk that
is supplied with the book (it is kept in the back cover of the
book). That power disk contains several source programs in
machine language as well as C, and a program that allows FAT
reading (this is very handy if you want to look at which sectors
are used by which program, etc.). The main program on the disk,
however, is called "Power". This is a program under GEM that
includes a copier, a disk monitor, a clone (which enables track
scanning, single track formatting and more) and several useful
options. Although I find Michtron Disk Utilities or the G-Diskmon
easier to use than the included Disk Monitor, a lot can be
learned from this program. It isn't possible to backup protected
software with the included copier, however.
Altogether, "Das Floppy Arbeitsbuch" is very useful for more
experienced Floppy freaks, but definately not recommendable for
beginning disk freaks; they would probably drown in the flood of
information offered by even the first pages of the book. I think
the beginning floppy freaks just need to wait a bit longer, 'til
I've finished my "Atari ST Floppy Reference Guide" (in spite of
the title, it will be written in Dutch). I hope to have done so
by the summer of this year.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.