Sinclair helps ensure a very busy retirement
I MUST gently remonstrate with Bill Martin and Sandra Mason for their somewhat dismissive and derogatory statement in your November issue that people over 60 years of age are unlikely to buy a microcomputer.
I am 67 and my son bought a ZX-81 about 18 months ago. In July he bought another computer and gave the ZX-81 to me.
I became addicted and when, about six weeks ago, the ZX-81 developed a fault - it got stuck in the red shift and the K intermittently changes to F - I ordered a new Spectrum, with which I now play happily.
If anyone can tell me how I can rectify cheaply the fault on the ZX-81 I shall be very grateful, as I can then pass it to another potential addict. There are surely a number of people my age who have found in microcomputers an absorbing hobby for retirement.
Incidentally, I agree with your correspondent K Watson that programs in Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs are frequently poorly printed and unusable. Please remember that people capable of deciphering poor print are adept enough to write their own programs. I have a number of books of programs for ZX-81, which are printed normally, so why cannot you do the same and help us oldsters?
E W Ansell
I FEEL I must refute the opinion of Messrs Martin and Mason - Futurology, September - that householders over 60 years old are too mean to buy a computer costing more than £10. I know of at least three in Caernarvon who are Sinclair users. I have a Spectrum and two are on the waiting list. Or perhaps they think we are too old to understand them? We may be slower but we get there in the end.
Reference Promises, Promises. My enquiries to Sinclair have been promptly and politely answered, both by sales and technical departments, apart from late delivery, I have no complaints.
HERE IS an idea to stop RAM pack wobble on the ZX-81. Simply stick the RAM pack to the computer with small pieces of Velcro fastening tape placed between the two units. It also works with the memopack.
Food for thought
I HAVE seen advertisements in your magazine and others regarding other programming languages for the ZX-81 and Spectrum. The Artic Computing software house with its ZX Forth at £35 is one example.
I have yet to see a review or assessment of their value or quality in any magazine. Your comments or a review or assessments would be much appreciated.
W E Rogers
THE SPECTRUM programming manual lists the Microdrive keywords but does not explain their use. Could you publish an article explaining how the Microdrives will operate.
Thank you for your comments. All the suggestions are being considered for future articles.
Spaced out with commas
I FIND that what the manual says - page 200 - is not what happens in practice with my ZX-81; for commas in print statements, the rules are:
Each comma causes a space to be printed at the print position in force immediately before the comma is acted on.
Each comma moves the print position to the next column 0 throwing a new line - or the next column 16. Here is a demonstration program:
10 FOR I=1 TO 64 20 PRINT "*"; 30 NEXT I 40 PRINT AT 0, 15,,,"O"
which shows that line 40 prints three spaces at (0,15) (0,16) (1,0) and 0 at (1,16).
W E Thomson
Taking the MIC
AFTER many days spent vainly attempting to SAVE and/or verify on my Spectrum, using three different cassette recorders, all of which would LOAD easily, I accidentally found a solution.
No matter whether I want to SAVE, VERIFY or LOAD, I ignore the MIC socket and always use the EAR socket with, of course, the EAR or MIC socket on the recorder. Success every time.
This is obviously contrary to the Spectrum instruction manual. Is my Spectrum faulty? Have many/any other Spectrum users had the same problem/solution?
S C Craxford
Sinclair Research says that the Spectrum probably has a faulty MIC socket and should be returned for replacement.
I AM the owner of a Spectrum and am writing to inform you how powerful the Ear output of the Spectrum is. I have a monotone cassette recorder and I have found that if I connect a lead from the Spectrum Ear socket into the Ext Sp of my recorder, the sound is much amplified.
There is not only sound coming louder from the recorder but the computer sound, too.
When connecting the lead to the recorder, the jack plug should be pushed only halfway into the Ext Sp socket. Some fiddling may have to be done to achieve the amplification but the difference can easily be distinguished.
Trying to tape best recorder
YOUR ARTICLE Finding better ways of storing on tape, October 1982, failed to provide a practical conclusion, i.e., a list of approved or recommended cassette recorders. If washing machine manufacturers can recommend washing powders, surely computer manufactures can provide a similar service on cassette recorders?
I particularly wish to know whether a Philips D6310 cassette recorder is compatible with the ZX Spectrum which I am patiently waiting to receive.
P D Curle
We did not give a list as it is impossible to test all the recorders on the market and so any list would inevitably exclude ones which worked and include others which, because of the reasons expressed in the article, might not work in a particular instance. Sinclair Research informs us that its engineers have yet to find a machine with a 3.5mm. jack, MIC and EAR sockets which does not work with the Spectrum.
Ephemeris put right
THANK YOU for printing reviews of our Ephemeris and Lynchmob programs in your superb Christmas number. May we ask you to publish this letter to correct two slight errors?
Our Ephemeris programs for the ZX-81 and Spectrum are intended for all those with a scientific interest in the solar system and will appeal to amateur astronomers rather than astrologers. The prices of the programs are £6.90 for the ZX-81 version and £7.90 for the Spectrum version.
Our fun educational game of Lynchmob is priced at £4.95 (ZX-81 16K) and £6.50 (Spectrum 16K). The prices are all inclusive.
Christine Hine, Bridge Software
London Bridge finds favour
THANK YOU for the London Bridge program in the Christmas edition. It was lovely. I beat your score of 1,700 by scoring 2,050. There was one brick left when I fell in to the water. I am only eight years old. Has anyone beaten my new high score?
I also like Phasor when the alien hits you.
Games not for sale
I WOULD appreciate it if you would publish a retraction of a review you did a few months ago of a collection of my games sent to you for publication. It implied that I could supply the cassettes commercially which I cannot do.
I am still receiving orders and it is costing me a good deal of money to return cheques and explain the situation.
D E Healey
Bug feared in Spectrum
I OWN a Spectrum on which I seem to have discovered a bug. I would be interested to know if other readers have reported any problem, since I cannot get a reply from Sinclair on the matter.
The INKEY$ function does not appear to work correctly. e.g.,
10 PAUSE 0: LET i$+INKEY $ 20 IF i$="a" THEN ... 30 IF i$="b" THEN ...
The above fails to run past the INKEY $ statement.
Similar pieces of program, for example in the "Draw" program on the Horizons pack, also crash the program. Replacing the above with:
10 POKE 23560,0 (sys variable - last key) 20 PAUSE 0; LET i$=CHR$PEEK 23560 ...
Do I have a ROM bug?
According to a Sinclair Research spokesman, you do not have a bug. He adds that Pause 0 will wait until a key is pressed.
I WISH to complain at the lack of Spectrum programs in December in your Program Printout. I know that some of the programs listed can run on the Spectrum with some modifications but that is beside the point. Your publication is normally very good but should cater for all Sinclair users every month, in articles and programs.
I was sorry to see Spectrum User absorbed into the main body of the magazine but concede to your reasons.
Your software reviews are excellent but I think you could do with a little more in-depth hardware reviews, i.e., comparative merits of 10 types of RAM or keyboard, for example.
We apologise for the lack of Spectrum programs in the December issue, due to an oversight. We had, however, a number of articles of interest to Spectrum owners, including a review of the Sinclair range of software. We acknowledge your comments about possible reviews and will bear them in mind.
Printer fumes harm query
CAN YOU tell me if there are any harmful effects from breathing the fumes given off by the Sinclair printer?
None of which we are aware.
Bachs chord skill needed for keys
I HAVE not had my Spectrum very long. It is still having teething troubles with me but one thing is already obvious - that the approach to the keyboard has to be not that of a touch-typist, but rather of an organist with all J S Bach's skill in playing chords.
How he would have appreciated the power of this great little four-decker instrument, though I suspect that he would have had two shift tabs brought out under his thumbs.
C R Oswin
Sufferers' club donation plea
I HAVE just read the November issue of Sinclair User, in particular the latest batch of letters from members of the Sinclair Sufferers' Club. As an early sufferer myself, I felt moved to make an observation which might benefit Uncle Clive.
As the average member of SSC has to wait in the region of three months before receiving an order, would it not be a good idea to invest all that money for three months and donate the interest to a well-known charity?
Also bearing in mind the number of complaints you have received about delays of Sinclair products does anyone know of a case where the company managed to deliver within 28 days?
Code sexists rule
WHILE READING the article on code junkies - December, 1982 issue - my enjoyment was dampened once more by the assumption that only young males are now striving at school, Scouts and in cricket clubs to gain the social experience to fit them for a sparkling career in computing.
My children, a girl and a boy, buy this magazine between them each month and they are equally interested in computers, mathematics, the Beano, Scouts/Guides, netball/cricket. When my daughter reads this article once again she will get the message - boys only. From Ladybird books to Sinclair User, the meaning seems to be clear. Sad?
J E M Fradgley
FOR EIGHT weeks Oxford Computer Publishing has been advertising in Sinclair User Machine Code Test Tools and inviting orders to PO Box 99, Oxford. The dymostickers identifying customers of Box 99 at Oxford Post Office fell from the boxes, according to the Post Office, and OCP orders were sent to the previous owner of Box 99.
OCP therefore is appealing to customers, with apologies, to persevere and to telephone orders to its office address, or to post orders.
B N Richardson, Director, Oxford Computer Publishing.