SCHEIBENKLEISTER - MASSENSPEICHER AM ST by Richard Karsmakers
Several months ago, when I came back home from a visit to God-
knows-where, I saw a big package lying in the middle of my usual
pile of mile. Eagerly, I opened the package and I discovered a
book inside it: "Scheibenkleister - Massenspeicher am ST", a
German book about floppy-and hard disk drives by Claus Brod and
Anton Stepper. Dear Claus! Was I glad that he had been able to
arrange a review copy of the book for me, so that I could now be
the first one to review it outside Germany!
Since Claus happens to be a good friend of mine (who also wrote
some interesting stuff in ST NEWS - remember the "Track 41
Protector"?), I thought he deserved a GOOD and TRUE review. It
would have to be objective, and it would have to be the only
conclusion possible after reading the whole book (nearly all 600
pages of it) thoroughly.
Since I haven't particularly had loads of time recently, and
since all recent issues of ST NEWS where either late or made
within a breathtakingly short time, I felt I couldn't write a
true review at all, and that's why it has taken such a long time
for this article to appear eventually.
But here it is. In spite of the fact that all my mind (and, in
fact, just about every cell in my body) is occupied by thoughts
of the lady of my heart, I have succeeded in gathering enough
courage to do it. The main inspiration for this was supplied by
Yngwie Malmsteen, who is currently playing the fastest and most
heavenly guitar solos through my speaker system (not too loud,
since just about everyone on my floor is still asleep). "What
this guy does on his guitar, I can probably do just as well with
a book review", I though to myself when I started. Here be the
"Scheibenkleister" is a book unlike any other book ever written
about the subject of disk drives or disk manipulation in general.
This kinda speaks for itself, since Claus has a writing style
that has yet to find its equal and Anton has a way with words,
too (though he didn't write much and was mainly concerned with
the programs in the book). "Scheibenkleister" is no simple summed
up catalogue of just about every piece of fact that can be
gathered about mass storage devices for the ST. No. It's a story-
like book in which everything is handled with both detail as well
as simplicity. To ensure quick reference, an extensive register
is included and the book is built up very systematically. The
appendices even increase this.
A very important aspect of the book is humour. I always read
Claus' articles in the German magazine "ST Computer", not only
because I have this everlasting interest in everything that has
to do with disk drives, but also because his articles were plain
fun to read. Many things of his writing style remember me of
certain Douglas Adams passages - the more accessible ones, that
is. In "Scheibenkleister", Claus even quotes some lines of the
master himself. Something that I found quite relieving after yet
another dose of information. Because, whatever you can say about
this book: It surely contains everything there is to know with
regard to the mass storage systems subject. The humour and
intermezzos create a necessary pause in all the knowledge
A very typical example of his humour is the part where he, after
explaining the principle of a data file on the basis of a
restaurant's menu list, writes:
"Female readers that now think, due to this Gastronomic
extravaganza, that I look much like a fat Gourmet, can rest
assure: My body measures are quite normal - fanpost and
launguishing letters can be sent."
The end of the actual chapters (just before the appendices
start) is also very humorous. After finishing the last line of
the book, the publisher takes over: Claus seems to have vanished
to some distant nebula, not leaving a trace. You'd have to read
it to get the full humour of it. I spent minutes coming by from
monumental fits of laughter.
So much about the humour. We are talking about a book about
'massenspeicher am ST' here, and that's what I will talk on from
After the forewords (one for each author), the principle of
files is explained, database structures and basic operating
system principles for the use of files. The necessary stuff, so
to say. Everything is very plainly explained, which says a lot to
The next chapter, about "Files in GEMDOS" is much more
complicated. On the note that I wrote while reading the book
stands: "Jump from simple to complicated - Chapter 2 about
GEMDOS". I could barely follow the jump, so to say, but somehow I
managed. Especially the piece about file structures under GEMDOS
I found very difficult to follow (I am still not sure if I know
how those relocation bytes work).
Chapter three gets back to disk structures: The FAT, directory,
the bootsector. Very interesting and lively brought to the reader
by Claus' natural talent of presenting dull facts in a nice
The first interesting programs appear in chapter four: A sector
editor (SED) and a copy program called "Variocop". The sector
editor has all the features of the 'big' disk utility programs as
well as some more. These programs are, before I forget to mention
it, added on the disk that is located in the back cover of the
book (the "Kleister-Scheibe"). No lengthy listings in the book
therefore, which is a definite advantage of "Scheibenkleister".
Working with the bootsector is also explained, and the reader
thus visits the innards of the ST's operating system deeper and
deeper. He carries on, enthralled.
Chapter five is mainly concerned with the Floppy Disk
Controller, the DMA chip and 'the rest of the world'. Some quite
complicated material is brought here, that I found relatively
easy to follow (though I'm still stuck with those GEMDOS
relocation bytes...). The role played by the ST's soundchip in
file I/O is also handled.
The chapter that I found most interesting, however, was chapter
six. This is mainly concerned with ways in which several floppy
controllers store their data on a disk. This piece of heavy
reading I found especially supplied with some good humour and a
miraculously easy way of explaining. Claus takes us all the way
back to the way older computers store their data, and brings his
story to and end on the ST (and Amiga).
Chapter seven is about the ST's FDC in detail. The type I-IV
commands are thoroughly explained, and the concept of 'Killer
bytes' is also brought to the reader's attention. Where other
authors always leave something out, Claus tells simply everything
you would want to know. And he also explains convincingly why
certain things can or cannot be done.
Chapter eight and nine were also very interesting. Here, a Track
editor (TED; also supplied on the disk of course) is presented
that has everything you'd always wished for in a track editor but
never found. What about examining gaps, syncs....the whole lot?!
In this chapter, a file is also presented that contains all the
FDC routines and that can be used in your own programs (it's
called LOCKSLEY). I had been afraid this would have been omitted
in this book since Data Becker also offered a similar program in
their book about floppy-and harddisk. But Claus and Anton didn't,
which means that literally EVERYTHING is present in this book.
And we're not yet at the end.... For there's the latest and most
full-proof version of Claus' famous "Hyperformat" program, that
now knows things like 'spiralizing' and additional 'fast
formatting'. With this program, you can format up to 950 Kb on a
Chapter ten is mainly concerned with practical disk
manipulation, and mainly with the hot topic of disk protections.
Claus sheds light on simple as well as awfully advanced copy
protection methods and how you can develop them in your own
programs. Several uncopyable protection methods are explained
(including the ol' "Track 41 Protection"), and he even talks
about the infamous principle of 'half tracking'. Interesting
stuff for hackers here, as well as software programmers.
The hardware freaks can enjoy themselves to their heart's
content with chapter eleven, that concerned with the floppy
hardware, and that explains several hardware tricks (justifying
drive speeds, 40/80 tracks switcher, the singing 1040 drive, and
more). Really, the further I went reading through this book, the
further did my admiration for the authors rise. Really......
"Scheibenkleister" contains EVERYTHING...and we're STILL not at
the end of it all!
Harddisk users, of which I am now also one (sorry, I had to say
it again. Apologies offered), will enjoy reading chapter twelve.
The book starts with the basics (What is a harddisk, how does it
work) and ends with the hard disk commands in chapter thirteen.
How to program the hard disk controller is explained in between.
Chapter fourteen contains tips & tricks and applications for hard
disk that are very advanced: How a harddisk installer works, the
introduction of a harddisk interface programs and the use of SED
with the harddisk. The technical side of this amazingly fast mass
storage device (SCSI and ACSI buses, the controller, SH204/SH205
hardware) is talked about in chapter fifteen.
When you thought you had had it all, the book starts talking
about 'Own mass storage devices' on the ST. How the BIOS works. A
RAMdisk, ROM, EPROM, Caché memory. And even then Claus doesn't
leave the reader alone; in chapter seventeen he starts talking
about connecting alien disk controllers (with corresponding
systems) to the ST, about CD ROM and even about a multi-tasking
After that, eleven appendices follow. These can be used for
reference - while programming or something like that.
What can now be the only logical conclusion?
"Scheibenkleister" is a very good book, that combines everything
written anywhere PLUS a lot more. The programs that are offered
on the disk can be called revolutionary (SED, TED, Hyperformat,
to name but a few) and the book is fun to read as well.
Some of you might say that I have lost all sense of being
objective; after all, I know Claus fairly well. But I am sure
that I would have written the same about any floppy book that was
written this way and that contained this many programs (READY ON
DISK!). Yeah, I would even go as far as assuming that this is the
BEST floppy-and harddisk book around.
The book costs DM 59,- (including the disk) and is published by
Merlin Computer GmbH, Industrie Straße 26, D-6236 Eschborn. At
the moment, the book seems only to be available in German, but
there MUST be a market for it in English as well. It has been a
long time since I have been enthusiastic about a book before, and
it then concerned "Lord of the Rings". "Scheibenkleister" is a
MUST for the computer addicted floppy/harddisk freak.
The last disk update is version 1.3. For those who have a recent
version, it can be obtained by sending a SAE to the authors; for
those that have version 1.2 or less, sending 10 German marks is
This disk software update service certainly is quite a unique
P.S. Claus, who's Ulrike?