THE ULTIMATE VIRUS KILLER BOOK APPENDICES
J - GLOSSARY
In this book several more or less difficult terms have been
used. An attempt has been made to summarise around 100 of these
within this appendix. Here, you will also find some more words
you may want to know the meaning of.
Accessories: These are programs that are loaded upon booting
when located in the root directory of the boot
device (drive A or C, usually). They have the
extension ".ACC", and are actually called 'desk
accessories' in full. They are automatically
installed, and run in a kind of multi-tasking
(Cf.) in the background, waiting to be
activated. Usually they can be activated by
clicking on their corresponding entries in the
pull-down menu under the Atari sign, on the top
left of the screen.
Amiga: A rather not-too-bad machine made by Commodore.
If it would have had a decent Operating System
of some kind, it would have posed quite a threat
for Atari in the field of serious applications.
Now, the Amiga is used primarily for which it
was originally intended and designed: Playing
ASCII: A standardised coding system that uses numeric
values to represent letters, numbers and
symbols. ASCII is the abbreviation of American
Standard Code for Information Interchange and is
widely used in coding information for computers.
Ideally it should be the same on all computer
systems, but it probably won't surprise you to
know that, well, it isn't. However, ASCII codes
32 to 128 are usually always the same.
Atari: A rather spiffin' computer company that happens
to have made the good old Atari ST, the TT, the
Falcon and, most recently, the fabulous Jaguar
games console. Thus, we should thank these
people for creating the machine we all adore,
even if the Operating System wasn't, isn't and
will never be quite perfect (neither was their
marketing, as we all know too well). It's a
shame they've left the computer market and are
concentrating solely on consoles now. They might
return one day, like prodigal sons, though this
Attribute: See "File Attribute".
AUTO folder: A rather extremely handy option built into any
TOS computers's Operating System. Any .PRG file
that you copy into a folder called 'AUTO',
located on your boot drive/partition will be
executed on reset/boot - as long as they don't
use GEM (Cf.), that is. It is possible to
install alternative item selectors, corner
clocks, cache programs and RAM disks this way,
BAM: Acronym for "Block Availability Map", which is
the Commodore 64's equivalent of what is called
a FAT (Cf.) on computers belonging to the MS-DOS
or Atari TOS computer platform.
BBS: See "Bulletin Board System".
Binary: The base-2 numbering system of which the only
digits are 1 and 0. The binary system is
particularly well-suited for use by computers
because the two numbers can be represented by
the presence (1) or absence (0) of voltage. Some
0000001 = 1 (1) 0001000 = 8 (8)
0000010 = 2 (2) 0001001 = 9 (1+8)
0000011 = 3 (1+2) 0001010 = 10 (2+8)
0000100 = 4 (4) 0001011 = 11 (1+2+8)
0000101 = 5 (1+4) 0001100 = 12 (4+8)
0000110 = 6 (1+2) 0001101 = 13 (1+4+8)
0000111 = 7 (1+2+4) 0101010 = 42 (2+8+32)
BIOS: Basic Input/Output System. A part of your
Atari's Operating System which consists of a set
of neat sub-programs that the user (and, indeed,
other parts of the Operating System) may want to
employ to do certain things (like reading or
writing a sector from disk, and more such). For
further info, please refer to appendix C.
Bit: The smallest unit of information with computers.
It correspond to a binary digit (either 0 or 1,
see earlier). Eight bits correspond with one
Boot, to: Quite identical to resetting your system. The
Operating System initialises your system, and
AUTO folder files and accessories are loaded
from your boot drive's root partition.
Boot block: This is what the bootsector on an Amiga is
called. It is actually two sectors, i.e. 1024
bytes, in size.
Bug: Computer lingo for an "error" or "mistake" in a
program's code. Suppose the "Ultimate Virus
Killer" would crash whenever it found a virus,
that would be a serious bug.
Bulletin Board System:
An electronic means of communicating and
exchanging programs. You can call such a BBS
using a modem (Cf.), and then send programs to
that bulletin board (upload) or get programs
from it (download). Information can also be
exchanged easily through a BBS. On the Internet
(Cf.) these are called FTP sites.
Byte: Memory unit that is enough to store one
character. It can have a value of 0 to 255, and
consists of 8 bits that happen to be called
Cartridge: On the left side of your computer there's a port
in which you can plug so-called cartridges. It
is called the cartridge-or expansion port. You
can put dongles (hardware copy protection keys
for specific pieces of software, especially MIDI
programs) in it, or clock cards, or ROM disks,
or hacker cartridges, and a lot more.
Checksum: Something that helps computers to determine
whether something was transferred successfully
or not. A checksum is usually generated by
adding all values in a specific range together
and then storing the result directly after the
end of that range. That way something that later
needs to get access to that same range of values
can generate a checksum itself and try to see if
it matches that which it finds directly after
the range it just read. If it's not identical,
something must have gone wrong either during the
writing or the reading process and a
corresponding error message can be generated.
In the case of the Atari's disk bootsector, the
checksum principle helps the system to 'know'
whether the bootsector contains valid executable
program code or not. When the result of the
checksum is $1234, whatever is in the bootsector
is found to be executable. The last two bytes of
a bootsector can be used by the programmer to
make sure the end result of the checksum is
equal to $1234 and the bootsector is executable
(or not, such as would be the case when a
bootsector does not contain valid program code).
Commodore 64: A really nice hobby computer, released in 1983
or thereabouts and designed by Shiraz Shivji,
the genius who also, according to legend,
designed the ST on his kitchen table. It was my
first computer, got it in 1984, and I still
occasionally fire up my 64-compatible Commodore
128 D for a bout of youthful sentiment.
Compatible: A seemingly magic word in the world of
computers, like in "Is your computer compatible,
Basically, this means that a system is or is not
interchangeable with another system, or whether
a program that runs on one system will also run
on another (or won't). Logically, one ST is
compatible with another ST. The Atari TT,
however, is only 'downward compatible' with the
ST (i.e. ST software should be able to run on
the TT but not all TT software can run on the
ST), and the same with the Falcon. MS-DOS
computers are not compatible with the ST as such
- only their disk formats are. This means that
you cannot run MS-DOS programs on an ST and vice
versa - but text files on MS-DOS disks can be
read by the ST and the other way around.
Unfortunately, "to be compatible" in the world
of computers usually means that you have a
system based on MS-DOS. And there's really no
point in having an MS-DOS machine unless you
want to get hooked on ancient architecture with
Compile: 'Higher' programming languages, such as Basic,
Pascal and Modula, cannot be directly
'understood' by the computer. If you want a
program written in such a language to run on its
own, it needs to be translated and adapted for
execution from the desktop (as .PRG file). This
is called compiling. A program that does this is
called a compiler. A 'low' programming language,
such as assembler (also called machine code),
needs an assembler for this.
Compression: A way to reduce the size of a program on disk or
in memory. This is done by checking certain
combinations of values to appear, and when they
appear numerous times they will be stored only
once, with proper identifications of where they
should eventually be stored back when being de-
compressed. It's really quite technical and I am
not, so I hope this suffices as an explanation.
A good compressor program (such as "Pack Ice",
"Atom Pack" or "Squish II") can take off about
40-60% from a file, but compression time will be
relatively long. Many other terms are used that
are actually certain ways of compression (like
packing, compacking, crunching, deflating,
squashing, squishing, shrinking, imploding...)
Contiguous: When talking about contiguous RAM, this means "a
piece of memory not interrupted by anything
else". For example, 512 bytes of contiguous RAM
usually means '512 bytes of free usable RAM with
nothing else interrupting it', i.e. not two
patches of 256 bytes with something else in
between it but 512 bytes directly in sequence.
CPU: Or Central Processing Unit. In the Atari ST,
this is the 68000 made by Motorola, running at 8
Mhz. This is the main chip of the system, which
is actually necessary for everything else
(performing calculations and processing
information). It also delegates what things
should be done by the other processors in your
system, such as the video chip and the memory
controller chip. The TT and the Falcon have a
better and faster CPU, the Motorola 68030. In
the Falcon it runs at 16 Mhz, in the TT at twice
that speed. Apart from just being better than
the 68000, the 68030 has a a built-in memory
management unit (MMU) and memory protection
(useful when you're multi-tasking (Cf.)).
Crash: Something that may happen as the result of a
virus, or, sometimes, due to something entirely
different. The reason why the word is in this
glossary is that it happened about two weeks
before I was due to produce the master copy of
this "Ultimate Virus Killer Book", destroying my
almost 600 Kb "UVK_BOOK.DOC" file. That left me
with a backup of the file dated some 10 weeks
earlier. This copy, of course, was still largely
unedited because, somehow, those 10 weeks had
seen most of the rewriting.
The event left me thoroughly nauseated, and with
another major editing overhaul at my hands that
I had no time for. Just please realise this when
you're reading all of this. This book is quite
literally the product of my blood, sweat and
Directory: The index of files that TOS maintains on a disk.
The directory entry for each file includes e.g.
name, size, extension, date and time. Also, very
important to TOS, it contains the number of the
first disk cluster occupied by this file. Also
Disk monitor: A slightly more fancy term for "disk editor". It
is a program with which you can edit or, indeed,
monitor, a disk's contents. Popular examples are
"Mutil" (Michtron Disk Utilities), "Knife ST",
the old "Hippo Disk Utilities", and "Diamond
Advanced Disk Editor (DADE)". There are many
DMA: Direct Memory Access. Usually, this refers to
the DMA chip in your system that is used for
input and output to hard disk and laser printer
as well as the floppy disk drives.
Emulator: A piece of software and/or hardware that allows
you to run software on your Atari that was not
intended for it. A MacIntosh emulator, for
example, allows you to run Apple MacIntosh
programs on your Atari, in a MacIntosh
environment. MacIntosh Emulators are, for
example, "Magic Sack", "Aladdin" and "Spectre".
Popular software-based MS-DOS emulators are "PC
Ditto" and "Soft PC"; hardware-based MS-DOS
emulators are e.g. "PC Speed", "AT Speed",
"ATOnce", their respective 16C/Plus versions,
"Falcon Speed" and several others.
There are also emulators to allow Atari software
to be run on other platforms, such as "TOS2DOS"
(PC), "GEMulator" (PC), "Magic PC" (PC) and
"Magic Mac" (Apple MacIntosh).
Execute, to: On the contrary to what you may think, this has
nothing to do with the termination of anyone's
life. Rather, it's the somewhat more learned-
sounding (ahem) synonym for to run, i.e. to
cause a (piece of a) computer program to get to
Expert System: A system based on knowledge that can solve
problems by means of a base of knowledge and a
logical derivation mechanism. Don't ask me
precisely what it means, as I wouldn't know. I
got the description from another (rather
Exponentially: This is the way viruses multiply, mathematically
speaking. I am no maths geek, so don't expect
proper scientific explanations here!
Principally, it means that every virus copies
itself, and each copy can copy itself again.
This means getting virus quantities along the
lines of 1-2-4-8-16-32-64-128-256-512-1024-...
and continuing into oblivion. When used in
conjunction with viruses, it is a synonym for
damn fast, pretty effectively, etc. It can be
compared with the growth of the world's human
population. Things are getting pretty crowded...
Falcon: The latest addition to the Atari range of
computers, and rather spiffing it is! Whereas
the STE only had moderate improvements over the
ST, the Falcon is really the best hardware Atari
ever released in the home computer market. Buy
Fast-load word: In the program header (the bit at a program file
start that the Operating System needs to get
specific information from) a word (2-byte value)
has been included that is usually set to zero.
If it has a value of '1', however, this will
speed up 'loading'. What it actually speeds up
is the time between when a file is loaded and
when it is actually executed. Whenever a program
is loaded, the Operating System empties all
available memory before actually starting the
program. This can be quite slow, especially in
systems with, let's say, 4 Megabyte of memory.
When this word has a value of '1', this memory
clearing will not happen. Also called 'fast load
bit', as in "that program has its fast load bit
set". It should be noted that the fast load bit
only functions on TOS 1.04 and higher, and on
systems with a lower TOS version that have the
"Pinhed" resident program by Charles F. Johnson
FAT: Short for File Allocation Table, a sequence of
values stored quite at the beginning of each
disk usable by TOS (and MS-DOS, for that
matter). It lets the Operating System know which
sectors of a disk are used for which file (and
in which sequence), and also informs it about
bad sectors. It can be compared with the
Commodore 64 Block Availability Map (BAM, Cf.),
with the exception that the FAT also stores the
file links and the 64's BAM doesn't.
File attribute: A byte in each file's directory (Cf.) entry that
gives it specific characteristics. It
determines, for example, whether the filename is
that of a file, a folder, or a volume (disk
name). It also determines whether a file is
visible, hidden, read/write or read only.
File locking: When you are using a multi-tasking and/or multi-
user system, it is possible that a file wants to
be accessed by several tasks/people
simultaneously. File locking is a way to make
sure that a file can only be accessed by one
task/user at a time - otherwise this could lead
to all kinds of strange things going utterly and
Floppy Disk: A flexible disk containing magnetic particles
that can hold information. The old ones used to
be 8" (very old IBM) in size, and later they
became 5¼" (Commodore 64, Atari XL, IBM). Modern
computers use 3½" floppies (Atari ST/TT/Falcon,
Commodore Amiga, IBM System 2, Apple MacIntosh).
There have been other formats as well (I seem to
recall 2" or 3" in old Amstrad 8-bit computers),
but these have not been terrible successful. Nor
very cheap, for that matter.
Flydials: A set of shareware GEM interface routines for
use in "GfA Basic". With the aid of this
interface, written by Gregor Duchalski, the
"Ultimate Virus Killer" got its ability to use
GEM, keyboard shortcuts, [HELP] and [UNDO] key
support, windows instead of dialogs, and a whole
host of other nifty little things. The routines
can be obtained by sending one disk and
sufficient IRCs (Cf.) to Gregor Duchalski,
Baueracker 15a, D-44627 Herne, Germany. You will
get the non-registered version. Permission for
use and extra routines can be obtained when
registering (the shareware registration fee is
30 German marks). Gregor can be reached via
electronic mail at email@example.com.
Formatting: Before a disk can be used (i.e. read from and
written to) by a computer's Operating System, it
needs to be formatted. This can be done by
'formatting' it, during which process special
markers are put on a disk so that, later, the
controller chip 'knows' where to recognise the
start of tracks and sectors. One good thing
about non-formatted disks is that viruses cannot
multiply to them, though this is hardly a useful
means of prevention.
Fun: A seemingly wildly varying sensation that people
have when doing something. For one person this
might happen when listening to a Metallica
record; for the next it might happen when flying
across the Grand Canyon in a helicopter. A
little heard of variation of fun is what
selected people of the somewhat odd persuasion
have when they've succeeded in creating a
working virus. Odd, indeed.
GEMDOS: Part of TOS developed by MicroSoft (or was it
Digital Research?), which consists of a neat set
of routines that enable I/O. It's a part of GEM
(Graphics Environment Manager), which is the
user interface of any TOS computer. Please also
refer to appendix C.
Gemini: A popular desktop replacement from Germany. This
is a program that, once loaded, gives you a more
powerful desktop to work with. The only
disadvantage is that is consumes memory, as it
needs a program to be resident in RAM whereas
the standard desktop is on ROM. It is shareware.
Also see "NeoDesk".
Hard disk: Non-flexible magnetic disk on which information
can be stored, just like on floppy disks. The
quantity of information storable, however, is
much bigger than on floppy disks, and the
transfer rate is also much faster. The official
Atari hard disks are the SH204, SH205, Megafile
30, Megafile 60 and Megafile 44 (the latter
contains exchangeable cartridges), whereas
various later Atari models (such as TT, Mega STE
and Falcon) have hard disks built in (44 Mb TT,
65 Mb old Falcon, 80 Mb new Falcon). Other hard
disks can be connected, too, of which Supra and
Vortex are two popular ones. The internal hard
disks mentioned just now can be replaced by any
other IDE hard disk (this is a really small kind
of hard disk, about as big as a packet of
nicotine addict's shots), up to half a gigabyte
I believe. In the MS-DOS world, a hard disk is
also referred to as fixed disk.
Hard disk driver:
A little program you need when working with a
hard disk. Without this program, the Operating
System might think that when you're trying to
use a hard disk you're actually accessing a
floppy disk which has quite different
Principally, whenever a read/write operation is
performed an installed hard disk driver looks if
you're trying to access a disk higher than drive
B. If not, then it will let the standard
Operating System routines get on with reading
and writing. If the drive you want to use is C
or higher, however, a special set of read/write
routines contained in the hard disk driver
itself are accessed instead. These 'know' how to
handle hard disks, unlike the standard Operating
System. A RAM disk driver works the same, but
has different routines that read and write from
and to a virtual 'disk' in RAM memory instead of
a floppy-or hard disk.
Hardware: Anything you can actually grasp with regard to
computers - e.g. monitor, keyboard, disk drive,
joystick and, of course, the mouse.
Hexadecimal: Way of counting on a base of sixteen rather than
ten. The 'numbers' range from 0-A (0-9 and A-F).
Hexadecimal $10 will thus be 16 decimal.
Hexadecimal (hex) figures are usually prefixed
with a dollar sign ($), though a suffix of 'H'
is also used sometimes with certain programming
Hidden: Something that applies to some rather useful
(and sometimes not rather useful) options in the
"Ultimate Virus Killer". Have you already
discovered the small (selectable) square in the
right bottom corner in most "Ultimate Virus
Illegal: With computers, there is a kind of illegal that
will not get you into problems with the law. So
we're not talking about copying copyrighted
programs illegally, but about programming
illegally. When you do this, it means that
you're using undocumented memory addresses -
anything that is not documented officially by
the High Lords at Atari. Accessing chips
directly, for example, is also illegal. The
advantage of illegal programming is that it can
be a lot faster. The disadvantage is that it may
not be compatible with future ST/TT/Falcon
systems. The "Ultimate Virus Killer", needless
to say, is completely and utterly legal (but not
quite as slow as this might imply, I'm happy to
Internet: A world-wide network on which various people can
be found, ranging from programmers to writers
and scientists to musicians (and, of course,
plenty of students). There are huge Internet
equivalents of Bulletin Board Systems that you
can FTP from/to, you can chat with one or
multiple persons, you can surf across the World
Wide Web and, of course, you can send/receive
electronic mail. I am on the internet, too, and
my email address is "firstname.lastname@example.org".
Interrupt: An interrupt (noun) is something (usually a
program) that interrupts another running
program. There is, for example, an interrupt
that is executed each time the monitor starts
building up a new scanline, there's one that
occurs every time you move your mouse and
there's one that is executed every time the
machine starts to build up a new screen (which
happens 50, 60 or 71 times per second on a
standard ST, according to your monitor). This
can be very handy for programming. There are
loads of interrupts with different functions,
but it is beyond the scope of this book to cover
that here. Please refer to a book the likes of
"ST Internals" in case you're interested.
IRC: Short for 'International Reply Coupon', a light
green piece of paper available at the post
office which is exchangeable in any country of
the Universal Post Union for one or more stamps
representing the minimum postage for an
unregistered letter sent by first class surface
mail from a foreign country. In other words:
Something that you should always add when people
abroad are supposed to send something back to
you (e.g. 'an answer to your question(s)' or
Yes. This entry is a hint.
Jaguar: Definitely the hottest thing to have been made
by Atari since the 2600 console. Millions of
colours, fantastic CD sound, initially available
at US$ 250 (probably significantly lower by
now), the best game console ever, easily beating
Panasonic 3D0, Sega Megadrive and Nintendo SNES.
Ideally, every human should own 1) An Atari
Falcon, 2) Metallica's "Metallica" and 3) An
Atari Jaguar with all of Jeff Minter's games.
It seems that Atari has in the mean time
virtually abandoned this machine as well, so you
might find it in your packet of Rice Krispies
KaosTOS/desk: "KaosTOS" was an alternative Operating System
from Germany. An interested freak took TOS 1.04
and threw out the bugs. Also, he took out the
bits written in sloppy languages (like "C") and
recoded them in assembler. What you got was
significant graphics-and file access speed
gains, and a bug-free TOS that Atari should have
bought and implemented in TOS 1.06 and higher.
As Atari didn't, however, "KaosTOS" became a
special patch program mainly available in
"Kaosdesk" is, just like "NeoDesk" (Cf.) and
"Gemini" (Cf.), an alternative desktop user
interface. This can also be used without
Killer disks: Disks with which something has been done so that
they can physically harm your disk drive
(especially its read/write head). Also see
Logical: When mentioned in association with disks (which
we're talking about here), this means something
like 'starting at 0 and forever counting
onward'. This is hardly an explanation, so I
will supply you with an example.
Suppose you have a disk that is formatted with 9
sectors per track, single-sided. Sector 1 on
track 0 (the bootsector) is then logical sector
0. Sector 2 on that track is logical sector 1,
and so forth up to sector 9 of track 0, which is
logical sector 8. Then we switch to track 1
sector 1. This is logical sector 9. Gettit?
logical sector=(spt*track no)+(sector no-1)
The antonym of 'logical' in this meaning is
'physical'. Physical track 2 sector 3 is thus
logical sector 20 ((9*2)+(3-1)). On double-sided
disks, you simply multiply the amount of sectors
per track by 2. Track 1 sector 1 on a double-
sided disk with 9 sectors per track is logical
Longword: Four bytes belonging together; a four-byte
Machine code: The 'native' language of the computer. It
actually consists only of ones and zeroes. To
enable the computer to 'understand' other
languages like Basic, Pascal and C, other
programs are needed that transform that to
machine code (these programs are called
compilers or interpreters).
Magic: When referring to 'magic longwords', this means
that a longword has a specific, officially
defined value that indicates something. E.g. a
magic longword of '12123456' on a $200-page
boundary indicates a reset-resistant program
there (see 2.2.2). In the world of Atari, these
longwords are some of the great mysteries. Some
of them are quite logical, some of them are the
start of the value of 'pi', and some are
birthdays of Atari developers...
Mainframe: Popularly speaking, a big computer system the
likes of which you find in Universities and
Malmsteen, Yngwie J.:
Someone who happens to play the guitar
brilliantly fast, brilliantly well, and
generally actually brilliantly brilliantly - if
you get my drift. He's been getting some pretty
tough competition from people the likes of Joe
Satriani, Steve Vai and John "Dream Theater"
Megabyte: Or meg when freaks are talking with each other.
This is 1024*1024 bytes, or 1024 kilobytes. An
Atari 520 ST, 520 STM, 520 STFM or 260 ST has
half a meg; a 520 ST+ 1 meg; a 1040 ST, 1040
STFM or MEGA ST1 has 1 meg; MEGA ST2 2 meg, etc.
A Falcon can have 1 meg (totally useless, and
should never be bought!), 4 meg or 14 meg. The
RAM amount in TT systems varies insanely. Third-
party cards are available to supply even more
megabytes of memory, especially for TT and
Metados: Something quite mystical Atari did, which is
designed for use with mass storage devices that
have a huge amount of data (e.g. CD-ROM drives).
This allows huge partitions to be processed that
would make standard GEMDOS go puke. Also, it
allows the use of up to 26 drive identifiers.
The "Ultimate Virus Killer" is ready for this,
needless to say.
Mnemonic: Any computer's native language is called
'machine code', and exists solely of ones and
zeroes in specific sequences. Since this is
slightly hard to program, people who want to
program in machine code use assembler programs
that use mnemonics. These are short instructions
that each represent a specific sequence of ones
and zeroes that form one machine code command.
Some 680x0 mnemonics, for example, are BRA
(which has nothing to do with what you might
originally have thought, but stands for BRanch
Always) and MOVE (which moves values around from
one place to another).
Modem: Short for MOdulator/DEModulator - a device with
which computers can communicate through the
telephone. At the sending side, it converts
digital into audio signals, and at the receiving
side the other way around. There are acoustic
(cheap) versions of this, that are fixed on a
telephone horn and require the user to be silent
when using it. The more expensive versions are
not acoustic and therefore directly hook onto
the phone socket. They have the advantage of
enabling the user to loudly play the latest
Napalm Death album on the stereo at all times
(never mind waking up the neighbours).
MS-DOS: MicroSoft Disk Operating System. The standard in
business computing, first used in IBM computers
and afterwards used in a whole host of clones.
It is actually not user-friendly at all, but its
market percentage is staggering nonetheless so
it wields tremendous power.
With the "Ultimate Virus Killer" it is possible
to check MS-DOS disks or hard disk partitions as
the disk structure format is compatible (Cf.).
However, it can only scan for Atari viruses!
There might be an MS-DOS "Windows" version of
the "Ultimate Virus Killer" some day in the
Multi-tasking: That what the computer is doing when two or more
programs are running at the same time. True
multi-tasking is not possible on the Atari ST
(nor on any other 68000-processor based
machines). The 'multi-tasking' meant here slows
the machine down considerably the more tasks you
use. Accessories, in close cooperation with a
part of the Operating System called the AES
Event Manager, are a form of limited multi-
tasking, principally allowing you to have 7
tasks simultaneously (a maximum of six
accessories and, of course, the desktop itself).
Atari has done a Multi-tasking TOS called
"MultiTOS", which is quite OK but not really
practical unless you have a Falcon or (even
better here) a TT. Other multi-tasking efforts
include Gribnif's excellent "Geneva" and a
German program called "Magic". There are a few
non-GEM compatible Multi-tasking Operating
Systems, too. Two of these are "Omen" and "SM2".
NeoDesk: A popular desktop replacement from the United
States of America. This is a program that, once
loaded, gives you a more powerful desktop to
work with. The only disadvantage is that is
consumes memory, as it needs a program to be
resident in RAM whereas the standard desktop is
on ROM. It is a commercial program available
from Gribnif software. I use it myself. Version
4 is especially spiffin'. Also see "Gemini".
Network: A group of computers, linked by printed circuit
boards, cables and network software, that share
resources such as disk drives, hard disks and
NeXT: If you want to impress salesmen in a computer
store, try asking information about the "NeXT"
computer in a convincingly nonchalant way. If
salesmen do not know what you're talking about,
this means they don't know anything.
The "NeXT" computer is the sortof legendary
computer of Apple founder Steve Jobs. It is much
better than anything on the market, ever so
slightly more expensive, and generally the dream
of every true computer freak (including the
author of these brabblings). The Falcon is
perhaps a bit better, though, so you could ask
for that alternatively.
This entry was written quite early in the
conception of this book. It might be outdated
now, but I liked it so I didn't throw it out.
Nibble: In normal life: To bite/eat gently or by small
bites. With computers: Half a byte (the first
half is a nibble, and the latter half is another
nibble). Thus, a nibble is 4 bits and can have a
maximum value of binary 1111 (which means
1+2+4+8=15). Also see binary, bit and byte.
Pixel: The smallest part of the screen, a screen dot. A
particular screen mode's resolution is specified
in pixels, for example 640 by 400 pixels for ST
Pre-virus: Any virus of which adapted versions go around;
any virus that has formed the base of another.
They often have the same structure, and only the
copy conditions and the destruction routine have
been changed. Once in memory, a descendant of a
pre-virus is often recognised as one and the
Public Domain: Software that is freely available and that may
be copied to your heart's content. There are
huge Public Domain libraries everywhere that
sell this PD software for (hopefully) small
administration and copying fees.
RAM: Short for Random Access Memory, i.e. the memory
in your computer that you can read from and
write to. This is where programs reside. The
disadvantage: If power fails, all information is
lost (unlike ROM).
RAM disk: Also called virtual disk. This is a kind of
floppy disk in your computer's memory that you
can write programs and other files to, and read
them back again. The main difference is that is
has no mechanics and is thus hellishly fast. It
does consume quite a bit of memory, though, and
all information contained in it is lost when you
switch your computer off.
Reset: (Noun) That what happens when you reset (verb)
your computer. This usually happens when you
press the little grey button on the back of the
There are two kinds of reset. A warm reset
happens when you press that little button on the
back of your computer or when pressing [CONTROL-
ALTERNATE-DELETE] on a system with TOS 1.04 or
higher. A cold reset happens when you switch
your machine off and on again (preferably for
about 30 seconds), or when you press [CONTROL-
ALTERNATE-DELETE-RIGHT SHIFT]. No virus can
survive a cold reset.
When using a TOS version lower than 1.04, third-
party programs are available that simulate the
key reset methods as well.
ROM: The other kind of memory in your computer,
opposed to RAM. It means Read Only Memory, which
means that you can read from it but not write to
it. The Operating System (TOS) is on ROM. The
good thing about this is that the information is
not lost when no power is present. Very handy,
one might say. Just think how irritating (and
how tedious) booting and resetting would be if
no smart scientist had invented it!
Routine: In connection with computers, usually another
word for "sub-program". Sometimes also called
SASE: (Sometimes also "SAE") Abbreviation for "Self
Addressed Stamped Envelope" - an interesting
thing that is related to the IRC (Cf.). However,
it is of little use when sending something
abroad as English stamps are not accepted by
Dutch mail, for example, not even when they're
in a really good mood.
Yes. This entry is yet another hint.
Screen Memory: Depending on the resolution and the amount of
colours you're using, this is a specific amount
of memory at the very top edge of your RAM
memory that is constantly scanned by your
computer's video processor and transmitted to
your monitor to be displayed. The top-and left-
most dot on your screen is the first byte (Cf.)
of screen memory.
Using a standard ST resolution (640 x 400 with 2
colours, 640 x 200 with 4 colours, or 320 x 200
with 16 colours), screen memory is always 32 Kb
in size and your video chip will scan it 50, 60
or 71 times per second. On a Falcon or TT,
screen memory can be a couple of hundred Kb in
size, and the larger it is the less times per
second the video chip can send its full image to
your monitor. On the Falcon with SVGA monitor,
without additional hardware, 880 x 440 pixels in
16 colours with a refresh rate of 70 times per
second is possible (and really comfortable to
Quite often there is a bit of RAM left just
after (above) screen memory. When you're using a
standard ST resolution, for example, there are
always 768 bytes that viruses often use to tuck
themselves away in.
Shareware: A form of Public Domain software, in which the
author would like the user to donate a certain
amount of money (or sometimes just ANY amount of
money) should he use it often. An admirable
initiative! Shareware is better than you think.
Lots of good utilities are shareware, and even
some rather excellent games. The excellent
"Backup Destruction Utility" and Llamasoft's
brutally brilliant "Llamatron" and "Revenge of
the Mutant Camels" games, as well as other
stuff, are all shareware.
If you want to make me very cross, you should
tell me you're using shareware without having
paid its shareware registration fee.
Incidentally, this book on disk version is also
shareware, so, well, er...register!
Software: These are computer programs - which are,
strictly taken, only specific magnetic sequences
on a disk or cassette that you cannot physically
touch. Viruses are software, too.
ST: A quite remarkable computer with a reasonably
fast processor, 'nuff RAM, a good Operating
System and...but do you really need to be told
ST Book: A special notebook version of the ST. It's
basically a lot smaller, thinner, lighter, and
more expensive. It has its screen (a 640x400 LCD
one) in the lid that covers the keyboard, has a
40 or 80 Mb hard disk built in, and 2 or 4 Mb of
RAM. Quite a nice thingy altogether.
ST NEWS: Quite popular Public Domain disk magazine, of
which 27 issues appeared between summer 1986 and
early spring 1990 - after which it ceased
existence. It's rumoured to have turned 'Undead'
after that, and those 'Undead' issues are quite
rare... Collectors items! In July 1996 it
actually went 'truly dead' with the combined
41st and 42nd issues (Volume 11 Issue 1 & 2).
For the latest issue, send a disk plus 3 IRCs
(Cf.) (and 1 extra if you live outside Europe)
to ST NEWS, P.O. Box 67, NL-3500 AB, Utrecht,
The Netherlands. If you insist on having the
final issue, send one HD floppy or two DD
floppies as it's rather a bit bigger.
STRIKE-a-LIGHT: Due to strange circumstances and odd
coincidences, people once seemed to think that
the predecessor of the "Ultimate Virus Killer"
(i.e. the "Virus Destruction Utility") was made
by Frank Lemmen and me for Dutch software house
STRIKE-a-LIGHT (source: "Your Second Manual").
Well, I have never worked for them even though
the people who did were good friends of mine.
Frank joined them quite a while later before he
left to become a branch manager of one of the
Netherlands' best computer stores. STRIKE-a-
LIGHT has in the mean time switched to
application programming on the PC, and even
barely support their virus killer, "Virus
Subroutine: Another word for "sub-program".
Supervisor mode: Some machine code instructions can only be used
when the processor is running in supervisor
mode. Also, some memory addresses can only be
accessed in this mode - like the Operating
System vectors and system variables, as well as
the hardware registers at $FFFFxxxx. I guess
this was done because some instruction should
only be executed after some thought has been
made, and some addresses should not be accessed
by accident. A program present in the Atari's
bootsector is, when run, always executed in
System variable: A documented memory location where a documented
specific value represents something specifically
documented. Also see appendix B.
TOS: Short for The Operating System (often wrongly
called Tramiel Operating System, after the
family 'clan' that runs Atari Corporation). It's
The Operating System of the Atari ST, TT and
Falcon, which actually makes sure that the
machine can be used in the first place, with GEM
and all that nice stuff.
TPA: Acronym for "Transient Program Area". This is
the part of your computer's RAM that programs
are loaded into. The segment before it (i.e. on
lower memory addresses) contains system vectors
and a variety of other small bits. The segment
after it (i.e. at the top part of your machine's
RAM) contains your computer's screen memory
TPI: Acronym for "Tracks per Inch", the amount of
tracks that can be safely formatted onto one
inch worth of floppy disk diameter. You need 135
TPI to format 80 tracks. There are also disks
with 67 TPI but these are quite rare now and are
of no use to all halfway modern disk drives
TSR: Short for "Terminate and Stay Resident", i.e. a
type of program that, after running itself and
terminating, remains resident in your system.
This term is often used in literature about
viruses, as all true viruses are TSR programs.
The computer industry just lluurrves acronyms,
especially ones that start with a "T", doesn't
TT: A semi-professional computer by Atari.
Basically, it's an ST but lots better. It has a
faster processor, built-in hard disk, more
different resolutions (the new ones are a lot
better), more possibilities and is generally
lots better. It's faster than the Falcon, even.
Turbodos: An infamous little program, done by Atari
France, that people using TOS 1.00 were advised
to install in their AUTO folders. The results
were faster hard disk loading and saving times.
Opinions about this program (which I have used
for about a year without any crashes) varied
widely (and wildly). Some people even went as
far as stating that one should only use it if
one wanted to lose one's data. I think it used
cacheing techniques or something.
Vertical Blank: Or, for short, vbl ("vee bee al"). This is
something that happens each time your monitor's
screen is refreshed, i.e. 50/60 times per second
in colour mode (depending on whether you're in
PAL or NTSC mode) or 71 times per second in
monochrome mode (these values can vary
incredibly on the Falcon though).
The computer executes several routines 'in the
vbl', which basically means that these routines
get executed 50/60/71 times per second, too. The
mouse is interpreted and the mouse pointer is
drawn within such a vbl routine.
Trivia: A game that runs in one vbl (in colour
mode that usually means within 1/50th of a
second) is a game that succeeds is refreshing
the screen contents within this short time. This
is ultra-smooth arcade quality. Most games,
however, run in two to ten vbls. The most famous
(and smoothest) ST game to run in one vbl is
"Enchanted Land" by Thalion Software. Most real
games in the arcade halls run in 1 vbl, as do
titles on nifty consoles like Sega Megadrive
(annex Sega Genesis), Sega Saturn, Atari Jaguar
(Cf.), Super Nintendo (annex Nintendo Famicom)
and Sony Playstation.
Ultimate Virus Killer, the:
A rather good virus killer available from
various sources mentioned somewhere in this
book. Surely worth getting, because -
Virus Free Disk: Many hacking groups have made bootsectors that
tell you 'This disk has no virus' or something
along those lines. This is a 'virus free disk'.
Some of them also inform you whether or not
there are any reset-resistant applications in
your system. The main difference with anti-
viruses is that they are not resident and never
copy themselves anywhere. They also increase the
ego of whatever person/group made them.
VT-52 Terminal: This is something that is integrated in the
Atari's Operating System; something that is
really very handy when printing something on the
screen by means of i.e. the GEMDOS 'print line'
function (see appendix C). It allows you to
position the cursor, clear lines, insert lines
in a text on the screen, change the character
and background colours and a lot more. One
simply puts an escape code in the text ($1B,
#27), followed by a specific VT-52 Terminal
command. Please refer to any decent reference
guide for the precise commands.
It has nothing to do with an airport.
Word: Two bytes belonging together; a two-byte value.
Also the name of a fairly good "Windows" word
processor for the PC.
Write-protect: A means by which a disk can be safe-guarded from
writing to it. In plain, practical English: You
can read from it but you can't write to it. With
Atari disks (the 3.5" kind), this is obtained by
opening the write-protect notch - so that you
can look through it. With the older, 5,25" kind
disks, you have to put an adhesive on the small
notch (even though some ingenious Hong Kong
people have devised plastic things that can be
put on them and easily removed after - and put
XBIOS: EXtended Basic Input/Output System. Whereas the
BIOS routines are quite general and quite
similar to those of the IBM, the eXtended BIOS
routines are more specific to the Atari itself.
Another neat set of subroutines ready to use.
Please also refer to appendix C.
Your Second Manual:
A rather excellent book by ex-American Danish
person Andreas Ramos. No Atari user should be
without it, honestly! It was my great example
for this book, and proved it was worth while to
do things like this. By now it's grotesquely
outdated, a thing that often happens with hobby-
specific computer books. Still worth getting,
though, if preferably at a discount.