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? Echelon

Edward Catflap

by Richard Karsmakers

A new sound sampler?
A new video digitizer?
A new game?
Are you kiddin'?
A new disk magazine?!
About three issues back, I mentioned the fact that a new disk
magazine had appeared on the ST market - a commercial one, even.
I had not seen it, nor heard much of it except that it was
supposed to be 'pretty good'.
At last, I have now succeeded in obtaining a copy of the March
1989 issue of the magazine. Since our regular disk magazine
reviewer, Mr. John de Bruyn, didn't have time to review it due to
high activities at his school and a concert of someone who had
his nose redone with the initials M.J., I decided to review it
I already mentioned the fact that "ST Digital" is commercial,
but there's another noticable fact as well: It's written entirely
in German. This restricts the appeal of the magazine to Germans,
Austrians, and Swiss - but those are over 100,000 ST users
anyway, so that should suffice.

"ST Digital" is also supplied with a GEM look. You simply load
in a huge program that allows you to look at the documents, just
like most other disk magazines - including ST NEWS. The strongest
point in advantage of "ST Digital" is immediately obvious: Their
articles are supplied with enormous loads of pictures (clip art,
mostly, and even screenshots). This should put them at the same
level as the infamous disk magazine "F.A.S.T.E.R.". together with
their custom GEM, music inclusion and the possibility to execute
a program from the mag, and afterwards returning to it. There are
even an address book, control panel and calculator included in
the program (nice, but unnecessary).
Unfortunately, SOMETHING went wrong in the process.
There is one enormous disadvantage in the magazine: It is
entirely sequential. This means that the articles and their
graphics are stored as if in one large page. And each page is
loaded separately from disk as well! You can not access the
individual articles without first having to find the page on
which they start in the total file (which is, in the case of the
March issue, 41 pages in length).
I surely wouldn't have minded them to use the 'parallel' look
that all other disk magazines use - this would have greatly
increased the userfriendlyness.

"ST Digital" comes supplied on a double-sided maxi-formatted
disk, and appears to work on color-as well as monochrome
monitors. The program is quite big (since it includes an
'accessory' address book, control panel and calculator, I
suppose), and additional programs that belong to the articles are
stored in a separate folder. The programs in the March issue I
reviewed include a hyper-formatter, a PD business graphics
program called "Datobert" (including GfA Basic Run-Only
Interpreter) and an Imagic-controlled graphics demo of Fibuman
(which, all on its own, is 329 Kb in length.......).
Articles include reviews (e.g. Fibuman, ST-Faktura, Night
Hunter, Puffy's Saga, Skrull, Technocop, and book reviews) as
well as a Mailbox Corner, a PD Software service and tips &
tricks. Individual columns, pages or the whole magazine can be
printed out. There are disk options (format, rename, erase,
create folder...the works) and an option to turn on music (though
you can't turn it off?). The musical pieces include two Xbios 32
tunes of which one ("Popcorn") sounded strangely familiar
(remember ST NEWS Volume 2 Issue 1, January 1986?).

All in all, "ST Digital" is a good German disk magazine with its
one main drawback that I mentioned above. It appears each month,
and it's possible to subscribe as well (in which case you will
get 10 issues for the price of 12)! "ST Digital" costs DM 14.50
each month, and is thus a bit more expensive than regular Public
Domain. A very reasonable price for a very reasonable disk
Hardware requirements: Double-sided disk drive.

For info, you should contact:

Christian Geltenpoth (Chief editor)
CP Computer Publications GmbH
Innere Cramer-Klett-Straße 6
D-8500 Nürnberg 1
West Germany
Tel. 0911-53250

Some remarks: The first batch of the first issue was delivered
with the "Signum" virus on it. Watch out if you have it, and
delete it using a good virus killer.
This review was originally written for ST NEWS Volume 4 Issue 3,
so it is grotesquely outdated. It was not used then because of
problems with disk space. But we didn't want to refrain the
knowledge of another disk magazine from you - even if it's 'just'
in German.

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.