1ST WORD PLUS AUTOSAVE
Program by Olivier Zeegers
Article by Richard Karsmakers
Saviour is near! Those who have had the ultimate "1st Word Plus"
frustrations will be redeemed! Hail Zeegers the Moderately
A rather nasty bug
Everybody who regularly uses "1st Word Plus", regardless which
version, has surely experienced a most peculiar bug that,
according to the programmers at GST, is embedded deep in the ST's
This particular bug can manifest itself in two different ways.
The first one is the most frequent: You are happily typing away
when suddenly the last three or four characters get repeated
automatically in a somewhat garbled way - without you wanting it.
If you don't act quickly (i.e. pull down the 'File' menu and try
to select the 'Save' option) you will be rewarded by a couple of
bombs appearing at the left middle of the screen. The second way
is more brutal, and seems to replace the first one when you're
using "Turbo ST" or a non-version 1.0 of TOS: The cursor simply
freezes and you can do nothing - you can't even try to save the
However the bug manifests itself, it is an enormous pain in the
posterior and it usually leads to total and utter loss of
whatever you have typed in using "1st Word Plus" and not saved
yet. Murphy (*) will make sure that the most inspired pieces of
writing are usually lost, as you will have a tendency not to save
regularly when writing in a very inspired fashion.
Life is really tough sometimes.
A rather INSOLVABLE bug
During the "Norway Quest" (which happened during the winter of
1989-1990 and which was extensively covered in ST NEWS Volume 5
Issue 1) I suggested to Stefan and Lord HackBear that they should
device a small resident program that could be called by a
specific key combination whenever "1st Word Plus" had hung up on
its user. It should either invoke the built in save routine of
the program, or an alternate save routine.
The first turned out to be too difficult, as the program is
written in C and afterwards compiled - too difficult to hack in,
even for a team with the experience such as DI and LHB have it.
The second way turned out to be too difficult, too, as "1st Word
Plus" does not store a document in one contiguous piece of
memory. The current line is somewhere, the rest of the text is
somewhere else, and other pieces of the text may also be
anywhere. All in all quite an impossible job.
And then...like a flash of lightning from a blue sky...
About a year ago I discovered a program on a Public Domain disk
called "1st Word Auto-Save". It was a desk accessory written by
Olivier Zeegers. As he is Dutch, the program was written in Dutch
It was based on the principle of another program called
"AUTOSAVE" that made it possible for "1st Word Plus" versions
1.xx and 2.xx to have kind of an 'auto-save' function. This would
make sure that every x minutes the program would 'save and
resume' the current document.
Alas, this program did not work together with versions 3.xx of
"1st Word Plus", and Olivier happened to have precisely that
So he sat down, thinking how he could solve it.
And, after a while, he had solved the problem and started
His program simulates the pressing of "CONTROL+V" every x
minutes, by sending the required keyboard combination to the
keyboard chip directly without the user actually having to type
in this key combination.
A very neat method, this has to be said.
I wrote to Olivier with the request that he should write a
better version of this program, together maybe with the principle
of how he did it and the story of its development.
He wrote back quite quickly and told me he had already made a
better version. He was trying to sell the program to GST and
therefore he could not promise anything. That was February 1991.
I have never heard of him since, so we'll just have to get going
with the old version of the program and me writing a bit about
it. I have tried to check out programming the keyboard processor
myself (with some help of Jurie Horneman(n)) but it didn't work,
so the principle will probably forever remain hidden.
In the PROGRAMS folder you will find an accessory filed called
"AUTOSAVE.ACC" (quite predictably). To install this accessory,
copy it to the root partition of either drive A or C (the latter
in case you're booting off harddisk).
Once you've restarted your system, you will notice the
'AutoSave' menu entry under the leftmost pull-down menu title.
With this you can select the accessory. It can be exited by
either clicking with the mouse on "ON" or "OFF", which will
result in the selected operation being performed.
At the top of the dialog you will get, you can determine the
interval time (HH:MM:SS). Default, this has been set to two
minutes, but you can change if you want.
If you exited the accessory by means of the "ON" button, a "A+"
will be visible in the bottom right corner of your screen. This
specifies that "AutoSave" is actually turned on. The program will
send the "CONTROL+V" key combination every x minutes, regardless
where you are. Normally, this does not do anything except being
ignored by everything. Only when you're in "1st Word Plus" it
will actually do something, e.g. "Save and Resume" the current
Note: When you happen to be in a GEM dialog box while the key
combination is sent, nothing will happen.
Altering the default time
If you have a disk monitor (or disk editor, or whatever you want
to call it), it is possible to change the default interval time,
making sure that you don't have to set it to your desired
interval time every time you boot it.
Simply find the LAST SECTOR of the "AUTOSAVE.ACC" file. Right
after a message about an RSC file you will see the value
"000200". The first two figures are the hours, the middle two the
minutes and the rightmost two the seconds. You can alter these
with the disk monitor and that's all there is to it.
All in all, it is a very useful tool that is, however, likely to
be improved quite a bit.
If you have any remarks or tips, you should not refrain from
contacting Olivier at the address below.
NL-6231 EJ Meerssen
If you want to feature this program in a Public Domain library,
you're welcome to. However, we'd like you to implement this
document as its "READ_ME.TXT" file. This can be done by pressing
"P" in the ST NEWS page view mode, which enables you to create a
separate "1st Word Plus" file of this text.
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.