"Death: To stop sinning suddenly."
VARIOUS BILL AYCOCK UTILITIES
by Richard Karsmakers
Quite a while ago, almost exactly a year to be precise, I came
across some utilities written by Bill Aycock. They seemed pretty
interesting but weren't the latest version. After having sent
Bill a donation and stuff I got back the latest versions as well
as a whole host of other Public Domain programs. I received them
well in time for a review in the previous issue of ST NEWS but
somehow I didn't find the time to give them the attention I
intended. Also, it was pretty full so I decided to postpone it to
the current issue. So here you have it.
The disk I got contained about a dozen utilities, ranging from
interesting and useful to totally specialised and useless for
most. I will be brief with regard to the latter, but spend some
more time and space on the former.
"Cal" is the most important program on the disk - or actually, a
set of two programs. The disk label also has the name on it, and
all other utilities on the disk were merely additional. "Cal" was
also the program that I was keen on getting the latest version
The current version of "Cal" is 6.3a. It is a calendar accessory
with knobs on, insofar that you can attach events to any dates
you want - birthdays you don't want to forget, appointments, that
kind of thing. Whenever events happen to fall on the day your
computer is booted on, it can display whatever you want it to
display on that day.
A special AUTO folder program, "CalShow" (current version 6.3b),
is also supplied. This wil read the appropriate events from the
"Cal" accessory on bootup and display the upcoming events on your
boot screen. Apart from its ability to run from the AUTO folder
it can also be run from a CLI, as a stand-alone GEM program or
All events are stored within a reserved area in the "Cal"
accessory itself, which has the disadvantage that you can't have
a limitless storage of events such as those I intend to make
possible with my forthcoming "Brain Replacement Utility" (see
"ST/Falcon Software Reviewed in Short"). It does have all kinds
of nifty options such as automatic deletion of certain expired
events and all kinds of "first x-day of the month", "every week"
and "every month" functions.
The user interface has all good things you might want, included
keyboard shortcuts and the lot. It is a well thought-out program
that has no limitations except for its limited storage capacity
of between 166 and 511 events.
It is shareware, by the way, and regular users are requested to
register for US$ 25.
"Finder" 2.0 is a text file locator. You can specify a string
that needs to be searched (as a matter of fact you can specify
three strings and three search criteria) and a directory that
will be recursively scanned for every file contained the search
patterns according to the specified search criterium. Part of the
text file (or any other file) will be displayed in part of a
dialog box so that you know whether you've found the file you
wanted or not. It is possible to search with or without case
sensitivity. Additionally, you can specify file filters so that,
for example, only files created after a certain date and time are
scanned. A report file can be written after scanning has ended.
A rather useful and sufficiently flexible utility.
This is "A Simple Database Program" 1.0, and that's all there is
to it basically. It's written in machine code, very fast, quite
flexible, and a database. You can use a clipboard, view and
search entries, and generally do everything you would expect from
databases below the "Superbase" category. For most applications,
such as keeping addresses and recipes and stuff, this database
will prove useful enough and, if nothing else, at least a bundle
cheaper than most commercially available products.
"KXPSet", or "Panasonic KX-P1124 Printer Setup", is a rather
specialised program allowing users of said 24-pin printer to use
it to full extent. Due to its high speciality, the program will
probably be useless to most of us. It looks well designed and has
extensive documentation, but I can't really tell much more
because I haven't got such a printer to use it with. If you're
one of those people with such a printer seeking for a good
configuration utility, it looks like this might be your best
Though less specialised than some of the other offerings on this
disk, "Show Message" 2.0 is an accessory capable of displaying
GEM messages piped to it and therefore mainly of interest to
programmers who have to debug stuff. Again it is capably written
and has great flexibility (you can for example specify five types
if messages it has to respond to). Though of limited interest to
most people of the ST/TT/Falcon fraternity, it's a decent tool
for some of us.
Update Maker & SuperZap
These are rather more interesting programs, especially if you
have ever programmed something yourself and you'd want to supply
free updates later on. By means of "Update Maker" 1.0 and
"SuperZap" 1.0 you have on your hands a utility to make a .ZAP
data file with differences between an old and the new version of
your program and a program with which end users can modify old
versions of your program to the new one respectively.
Really useful for any shareware and PD programmer, as well as
for companies like Codehead, Trace Tech and Gribnif who regularly
spread similar update makers through the PD and Internet.
Ever not been able to check out what kind of file you've
obtained? Ever has the problem of not being able to dearchive a
.ZIP file simply because it turned out to be an .LZH file with
the wrong extension? For those, Bill has made "WhatIs",
currently in version 6.5. Simply have the file in question (or
questionable file, whatever) analysed by "WhatIs" and chances are
considerable that it will be identified correctly. "WhatIs" can
recognize 125 file formats, varying from picture files and
archives to database files and special text documents. It can
even be fed file specifications through the command line,
supporting a folder scan (though NOT recursive) to check multiple
files (with wildcards allowed) in one of multiple folders.
The major file types recognized are MIDI format files, other
music-related files, word processing/document files, desktop
publishing and font file types, picture/graphics/animation files,
compressed disk and file types (though rather a lot of packer
file formats are not recognized), executable files (programs and
accessories and the like) and miscellaneous data files.
Quite impressive. When installed as an accessory other programs
can use the GEM message pipe to instruct it to identify a file,
and there's a lot of other options. Rather a lot of files
(including "GfA Basic" source files) are recognized as
SCR/TNY/SCRUNCH files (whatever those may be), and unfortunately
the program cannot be extended by the user.
Maybe updates to this program are available already, that have
fixed this problem.
This is a text file unformatter, version 3.0. It allows you to
convert formatted text files into a format more readily readable
by other word processors, especially some on the MS-Doze
platform. Left margins can be removed, TABs can be replaced by a
user-specified amount of spaces and paragraphs and linefeeds and
returns will be treated the way you want. There are many
utilities like this, including some really ancient ones, but this
one looks set to do the job well, and fast too.
The disk contains an "other" folder containing miscellaneous
tiny utilities that I would here like to summarize in short.
EASTER. A program that can be fed a year (or that will take the
current year when fed nothing) and that will then display the
date on which Easter falls. There's a machine code source with it
PACPAGE. A highly specialised program that allows you to switch
a Pacific Page P*E Cartridge to Postscript or HP PCL mode. I'm
not sure what this means, but if you do then I suppose this is of
use for you.
COOKIEJAR. A cookie jar viewer that can page up and down the
cookie jar with 12-entry pages. Screen redraws are not properly
done, but that's probably because I couldn't be bothered to run
the program outside my usual Falcon VGA 16 colour BlowUp (880 x
480 pixels) resolution.
DESKJET KICKSTART. When you have an ST and a DeskJet printer you
will know that you have to switch on and boot the DeskJet printer
before switching on the ST. If you neglect to do that, the
DeskJet will be thought not present. This is a small accessory
that can make your ST recognize the DeskJet even when switched on
after the ST.
BLINK UTILITIES. These are a few accessories that allow you to
quickly set your computer's colour palette, or even allow you to
select one out of a small library of ready colour palettes. They
take up less memory than the proper routines in the Control
Panel, so is claimed.
CLOCKSETTER. Last but not least, you get Codehead's
"Clocksetter" utility on the disk. This is for use on some ST
system in conjuction with programs such as "Cal" that need your
ST to have a proper time and date when booting.
The other day I got "WhatIs" version 6.6. Still doesn't
recognize "GfA Basic" version 3.x files though.
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.