NEW DISK MAGAZINES by John de Bruyn
First of all, it needs to be said that the word 'new', used in
the above title, needs to be seen in a certain perspective: The
perspective of my knowledge. One of the two disk mags I will
discuss here is not 'new', but merely new to me. It's called "ST
Report". The second one, "News Channel", was sent to me by our
ex-editor (and current 'master-correspondent'), Richard. He found
it more appropriate to let me do the review, because his own
opinion might prove not to be altogether that objective...
Just like "Nutworks" (please refer to an article of mine in one
of the earlier Volume 3 issues of ST NEWS - I think it was
issue 2), "ST Report" is a document file and comes from the
United States. "ST Report" is, however, ST-specific and most
probably the most up-to-date disk magazine existing. It is
published weekly and is usually crammed with software reviews
(usually of U.S. software, that's not yet available here), modem
conferences (about various subjects - sometimes VERY interesting)
and feature articles.
"ST Report", edited by Thomas "Rex" Reade, can be found on many
Bulletin Board Systems (also e.g. Atarinet in Holland) as an ARC-
ed document file. Downloading one of these document takes a
little less than 10 minutes, and there are about 40 "ST Report"
in Volume 2 (oops).
"ST Report" is Public Domain (of course), and articles may be
used in other magazines as well when reference to the original
source and author(s) is made (that's a hint to all editors of
lousy usergroup magazines as well as certain disk magazines).
Especially people having a modem should take the trouble to
download the most recent issue every week - just to keep up to
date with what's going on in the world outside your bedroom!
Info about "ST Report", the weekly online magazine, can be
P.O. Box 74
Middlesex, NJ 08846-0074
United States of America
I suggest you enclose one or two International Reply Coupons
(and maybe even a donation, as there guys are doing GREAT
The newest disk magazine to appear on the ST scene no doubt is
"News Channel", that Richard sent to me JUST in time to be
included in this article. Since a lot of hours seemed to have
gone in the programming of that magazine, I decided to test it
longer than usual - one might say that I tested it rather
For starters, "News Channel" is edited by THREE senior editors,
and the program itself was written by these three as well. Hence
some minor bugs - too many people on one project tends not to
work out for 100%. The editors are Servé Hermans, Gaston Smit and
Erik van Esch, and they have also written all the contributions.
It is very interesting to read their articles, as it is possible
to conclude who wrote them without even reading the credits of
each individual article. Servé, for example, has this weird habit
of putting a "-" at the beginning of each line?!
The disk magazine is GEM-driven, just like "F.A.S.T.E.R." and ST
NEWS - it is controlled by mouse and keyboard. It appears quite
userfriendly, and the first thing I really liked was the fact
that their first issue was dedicated to Michael Jackson.
Coincidence made sure that my radio was momentarily playing Mr.
Jackson's "Dirty Diana", and I found this a good sign. After
clicking on the "OK" button of an alert box, a message appears on
the screen, saying that I should not touch mouse or keyboard...
some digital stuff was to be heard. DIGITAL SOUND?! Isn't that
When the music had finished (doesn't take long, but it's a bit
tedious after having heard it a dozen times), the menu bar screen
appeared. Huh? My mouse didn't move?! Then the 'do not touch
anything' warning came back in my memory. Oops. The same Michael
Jackson they had dedicated their mag to, had made sure that
(through the radio) my mouse had moved due to high volumes in the
room. Reboot. And I pumped down the volume a bit. My fault. They
had warned me, anyway.
After once again having gone through the starting-up procedure,
I finally ended up at a working menu bar screen. Music was again
audible through the monitor speaker (the same music that was
included in ST NEWS Volume 2 Issue 5 - "Monty on the Run" by Mad
Max from TEX - that works fine in color mode but that goes MUCH
too fast in monochrome mode...). Their first issue included some
adventure solutions by good old Math Claessens ("The Pawn",
"Borrowed Time", "Tass Times in Tonetown" and "Star Trek"),
software reviews (e.g. "Flintstones", "Gauntlet II", "Out Run"
and "Pandora"), some GfA Basic 3.0 articles (unfortunately, their
sources are not put on disk, but just present in the article) and
some columns like "Billboard", "Questions & Answers", "Small
Adds" (for which you have to pay 5 Dutch guilders), "Hiscores"
and "Game Tips & Tricks".
The program further implies 'set colors', 'scrolling message'
(codeing by Stefan Posthuma, our beloved new editor - who doesn't
get ANY credits for it?!) and some graphics with animation (only
on color monitors). The only thing I really missed in the
'Options' menu was the "turn on/off music" option. So I just had
to pump down the volume of my monitor now.
The articles are written in average to good English - at least
better than the English that's used in "ST Info". Some words can
be seen to have been obtained from a dictionary.
Now, let's have a systematic look at the pros and cons.
- Quite userfriendly
- Up-to-date software reviews
- Quite good English
- Nice animation on color monitors
- Good music (though too fast on monochrome monitors)
- Very interesting game rating: Grab factor. Very original!!
- Fast page view mode (though only plain text)
- Dedicated to Michael Jackson (great!)
- When selecting "Billboard" after "Entertainment": GfA Basic
error #22: File already open
- Digi-intro becomes boring after a having heard it several times
- No picture/animation on monochrome
- Not all articles can be printed
- Music cannot be turned off
- Sometimes things appear to be a bit messy
- VERY short articles (about 50% is one or two screen pages)
- Does not work with an auto-booting hard-disk
It is very well possible that "News Channel" will become quite
big, although they have tough competition - also because they
have not yet established any foreign contacts with distributors
and software houses. I hope "News Channel" will survive, since
competition tends to be good for the consumer and that's what all
the disk magazines are aimed at.
Let's hope that I will be able to write an article about 'new
disk magazines' again very soon! Why don't YOU start one? And for
those of you that wouldn't know how to start one: Why don't you
work together with one of the existing disk mags?