Sinclair Simon Issue 20 Contents Hardware World


Diet challenge gains weight

WE ARE WRITING concerning your review of Dietron in the September issue. The review is of particular interest because we produce Diet Master for the 48K Spectrum, a copy of which you have had for review for some time. We bought Dietron originally and experienced the same crash and errors you experienced, so we felt we could produce something better, hence Diet Master.

One of your criticisms of Dietron reflects some of the comments made to us about our program, i.e., it is supposedly far easier to obtain nutritional information from a book rather than to spend time loading the program and running it. That may be so for a qualified dietician but not for anyone else.

So we would like to issue a challenge to people with 48K Spectrums. If anyone can produce the information provided in our program in a shorter time than our program, including loading, we will remove our program from the market.

We will provide the appropriate nutritional books. What the user must do is to write a personal RDA table based on occupational category, sex and age; construct an accurate weight-range graph, based on height, weight and frame size; for everything which has been eaten in a particular day they must provide accurate figures on eight different nutritional compositions for each food, including things like sugar and milk; and, finally, they must construct a histogram for each of the nutrients in our program, showing the recommended RDA figure against what has been consumed of that nutrient, and give a percentage.

If anybody can produce all that information in a shorter time than our program can we will keep our promise and withdraw ours from the market. As a guideline, for an average day's eating it takes approximately 20 minutes to do this with Diet Master. This may seem a trivial point but if you can publish the challenge, perhaps we can dispel your, and many other people's belief that doing it from a book is quicker.

Also, a diet program, although obviously of use to anyone slimming, is designed primarily to provide a balanced intake of food. Your over-emphasis on the slimming headline - Dietron lacks weight in the slimming business - is misguiding as to what a diet program is there to do.

Laurie Sinnett & Louise Buckle, Delta 7 Software

Classified directory

CONGRATULATIONS on a very well-presented magazine. The Software Directory is an excellent idea and should be continued in future issues. Why not put a list of ZX-81 games in one issue and in another issue the Spectrum list? That way one full list of games for each computer can be published in one issue.

Another good idea would be to put the list of games into subheadings, such as Adventure, Arcade, Business. That way, if one wants an adventure game he would have to look only under that subheading instead of looking through the whole list.

Farley Scollick

Random access

PERHAPS 16K Spectrum owners would like to try the following RANDOMIZE USR commands:


Has anyone beaten my Orbiter high score? 1,550,450. It took me seven hours and I stopped only when cramp in my fingers set in.

Lee Overy

Notable notemaker

I HAVE just typed in Notemaker - Program Printout, July, 1983 - by R Frost. I found it a most useful and interesting program which has made it easier for me to create tunes on my Spectrum. When a tune is played back, however, the music is very jerky and not always recognisable.

There is a simple solution which needs no extra lines added. When you press "m" to play back, press two keys e.g., "n" and "m" alternately, and the music flows, eliminating the gaps between notes. Press the key just as the note is finishing to obtain the best effect.

I enjoy your magazine very much and have bought every issue since I bought my computer a year ago.

Matthew Ashton

Spellings of the world

THANK YOU for your favourable review of our Countries of the World cassette for the Spectrum. We are working hard to produce original software for the new generation of colour computers and I think you will agree that in this case we have succeeded.

Unfortunately, your reviewer closed his remarks by disputing our spelling of the capital of Andorra. Even more unfortunately he stated "little mistakes like that spoil the program".

Such global criticism is ill-judged and unfair. We undertook a great deal of research into the names, capitals, languages, currencies of all the 170 or so Countries of the World, using a number of reference books before we launched the cassette and we stand by our data as being accurate.

Your reviewer is clearly not aware that many countries have more than one national language and more than one accepted spelling for the names of the capital. Andorra is a case in point. It is a small state on the border of France and Spain and dialects of French and Spanish are the main languages.

The various reference books contain three versions for the name of the capital as Andorra-la- Vella - Philips Illustrated Atlas, Philips International Atlas and the Times Concise Atlas; Andorra-la-Vieille - Statesman Year Book; Andorra-la-Vieja - The Times Atlas. The Hamlyn World Atlas and the New Oxford Atlas give the name of the capital simply as Andorra. We chose the second version and your reviewer prefers the first.

There is no space in the Spectrum RAM to permit us to give alternative spelling for capitals although we are able to give all the main languages and currencies. I therefore feel that we are offering an excellent product which is good value for money.

Andrew Hewson, Hewson Consultants

Quality does not impress

I AM writing as I believe readers may be interested in my experiences with Sinclair computers. Two weeks ago I bought a ZX-81 from Currys electrical store in Bristol. Encouraged by favourable reviews I had read in various computer magazines, including yours, and also the large amount of software available and the reasonable price, I considered it a good buy.

Unfortunately after three days of endless trying and frustration attempting to get the computer to accept programs either from tape or by typing them in, I concluded I had bought a dud. Although a little fed up at having spent three days establishing that the computer did not work properly I returned it to the shop.

While I was there I met another customer who had had two ZX-81s, both of which had not worked properly. Currys, unable to supply a replacement, gave me my money back and, undaunted by this experience, I had enough faith to buy another ZX-81 from Currys at Bedminster.

Again I returned home excited by the prospect of at last experiencing the joys of home computing. Again the computer did not work properly and had to be returned.

Although disappointed by this episode, I ascribed it to bad luck and decided to pay a little more to get a better-quality computer which would prove more reliable. Thus a week later, having again looked through the reviews in computing magazines and at the availability of software for different computers, I bought a Spectrum 48K computer.

As with the other two computers the Spectrum did not work properly, refusing to accept programs.

At that point I started to get a little angry and upset. Back went the computer to W H Smith where I had bought it. While I was there another customer was taking back a ZX-81 which had gone wrong. Amazingly it was his fifth which had gone wrong or had failed to work in a week.

When my first computer refused to work, initially I blamed my tape-recorder, as I know that some are not compatible with home computers and tested that by going to W H Smith, with a demonstration model which was on display running a program on it. It worked perfectly.

Again with the Spectrum initially I blamed the tape recorder. Again I tested it by taking it to the ZX Centre in Gloucester Road, Bristol, which sells software for Sinclair computers. Again the tape recorder loaded a Spectrum with a program.

This saga of Sinclair computers going wrong seems difficult to stomach and I wonder how Sinclair earned its reputation of being reliable? I am now at a loss what to do.

I would like to have a Spectrum which works to gain access to its unrivalled software and hardware add-ons but I do not think I could go through the ordeal of buying another, only to find it break down yet again and have the trouble and effort of taking it back.

I would like to own a home computer but my recent foray with Sinclair has given me grave doubts about which one I should now buy.

Christopher Watkins

Corrections on account

THANK YOU for your review of my Bank Account system for the Spectrum in Sinclair User. The date validation problem has now been corrected.

It may be of interest to readers that I am also marketing a Diary System written to the same standards as Bank Account for £3.

Also now an enhanced version of Bank Account is available for £4.

This version allows all transactions to be analysed by user-defined codes.

Keep up the good work, Sinclair User.

K J Gouldstone

Speeding command

I HAVE HAD a 16K ZX-81 for eight months. I have discovered a poke which speeds some commands dramatically. It is Poke 16389,76. To prove the speed type:

SLOW Program 1.
POKE 16389,76
5 SLAVE ""

Note how long it takes to run, then pull out the mains plug - for the ZX-81 - for about a second, put it back in again and type:

5 SLAVE "" Program 2.

You will see that Program 1 works much faster than Program 2. Then type:

POKE 16389,76

See how quickly it did it. It has a host of other uses, including clearing screens which have been scrolled instantly.

It has the disadvantage that graphics can wobble. My RAM pack is a Sinclair and I am not sure if it will work on other makes such as a Memotech.

Edward Wright (aged 12)

Patience needed

THE PATIENCE program by Andrew Price In the September Issue does not work. That is due to values not being defined in the array DIM N(7) in line 15.

It can be rectified by the addition of a single line:

50 FOR X = 1 TO 7 : LET N(X) = 5 : NEXT X

S Wilson

Rotating plotter

WHILE experimenting with my 16K Spectrum, I discovered that typing:

PLOT 128,88
DRAW 30,30 4E4

draws a shape and rotates it. Changing the third number in the DRAW statements changes the shape and size of the object. Also typing RANDOMIZE USR 3280 scrolls the screen up one character. This is the Spectrum ROM routine for scroll.

Neil Durant

Sinclair Simon Issue 20 Contents Hardware World

Sinclair User
November 1983