Volume 1, Number 1
Fall 1986

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Welcome to the TPUG/Transactor Pages

by Jlm Butterfield

Copyright © TPUG 1986, 1998.
All rights reserved.

TPUG news now comes in a new package. It comes with The Transactor magazine. In this section - the TPUG part - you'll find the usual TPUG news, views, catalogues and other material related to the user group's activities. In the "main" part of The Transactor, you'll see a high quality journal.

Why the change? TPUG decided to go to a joint Transactor/TPUG publication in order to save money for its members. TPUG Magazine, the traditional user group publication, contained good material and was well organized. But it cost a good deal of money to produce, and continuing its publication would have called for a stiff increase in membership fees. Rather than go that route, the user group board of directors decided to take advantage of the publishing facilities of The Transactor to keep its membership informed on club activities.

You may know The Transactor. If so, you know it's an excellent technical journal dealing with Commodore products. Although the magazine contains some quite profound technical material, it's not entirely serious tech stuff. The editor, Karl Hildon, seems to take great delight in showing new ways to "crash" your computer with oddball POKE commands (don't worry, no harm will come to the machine from doing these), and many of the programs and techniques given are useful and practical stuff.

If you haven't met The Transactor before, take a look through the pages. There's quite a mixture of material here. You don't need to read it all . . . but you'll find it a rich source of information on your computer and its peripherals.

Some TPUG History

When Lyman Duggan started TPUG (at that time, he called it "Club 2001" after Commodore's only computer, the PET 2001), he just phoned the 15 or so members to tell them about a new meeting. Coffee and doughnuts were served at the meeting, and Lyman had a tray of cassette tapes for sale, which contained public domain programs.

By the time membership rocketed to 30 or 40, a single sheet of paper was mailed to interested persons, giving meeting details and anything else that Lyman could think of to fill out the sheet - speakers, programs, tips or whatever.

Then Lyman had to leave to take up work in Florida, and TPUG reformed as a user group. An editor was selected - Bruce Beach - and The TORPET was born.

The TORPET was a publication independent of TPUG. It published on behalf of TPUG as a matter of commercial contract. Over the years, it grew in size and acquired typesetting and full-colour covers. Eventually, Bruce decided to divorce his publication from TPUG and go on his own. And the user group set up a new publication . . . TPUG Magazine.

Here's something curious about The TORPET magazine: it's still being published. But the meaning of its name has changed, and its subject matter is completely different. "TORPET" used to mean "Toronto PET (user group)", but the magazine now identifies its name as: Today's Oceanographic Research Program for Education & Training. Bruce has floated a new business (literally: it's a ship called Canada's Tomorrow) and his interest now lies in the area of underseas exploration using robotics.

So TPUG Magazine came into being, with David Williams as the editor. David was taking a break from his career in education, and was eventually replaced by a full-time editor: Nick Sullivan.

And with the publication of the final edition of TPUG Magazine, Nick transfers to the staff of The Transactor. He'll keep continuity in the flow of information from the user group to you.

Some Transactor History

The Transactor started out as a publication of Commodore Canada. It was a few mimeographed sheets... sometimes with a technical bulletin attached.

When Karl Hildon joined Commodore Canada, there was a marked change in The Transactor. There was more material, more carefully edited. Karl was aware that The Transactor, as a Commodore publication, had the "stamp of authority". If the magazine said it was OK to make a modification to your computer, Commodore would have to stand by it.

Karl was quite tough and independent on Commodore matters. If Commodore goofed, The Transactor would say so. If bugs were suspected in any system component, you'd see it in print - fast.

When Commodore decided to give up publication of The Transactor, Karl went out and found another publisher. He found it in BMB Compuscience. He also found the resources to expand The Transactor into a professional publication with a full-time staff. Over several years, circulation grew to sizable proportions.

Now, with the integration of TPUG functions into the Transactor area, members will get both inforrnation sources in one package.

Keep in mind that this insert is still TPUG territory. The club will still put current information here. There's less room for contributed material, but it will still be fitted in when possible.

And it's still the main link between the user group and its associate members. If we want to be a club, we must keep in touch. Now, that's what this section will be doing.

And welcome to this new information area.

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Sept. 1986 to June 1987

Copyright © TPUG 1986, 1998.
All rights reserved.

All meetings begin at 7:30 pm sharp, unless otherwise specified. Capitalized dates indicate that the meeting does not fall on its normal day of the month.

VIC 20 Cbapter: York Public Library, 1745 Eglinton Ave. W. (just east of Dufferin) in the Story Hour Room on the second Tuesday of the month unless otherwise specified.
1986: SEPT 16, Oct 14, NOV 18, Dec 19
1987: Jan 13, Feb 10, Mar 10, Apr 14, May 12, June 9

Commodore 128 Chapter: York Public Library, 1745 Eglinton Ave. W. (just east of Dufferin) in the auditorium on the first Tuesday of the month unless otherwise specified.
1986: SEPT 16, Oct 7, Nov 4, Dec 2
1987: Jan 7, Feb 3, Mar 3, Apr 7, May 5, June 2

COMAL Chapter: York Public Library, 1745 Eglinton Ave W. (just east of Dufferin), in the Story Hour Room on the fourth Tuesday of the month unless otherwise specified.
1986: Sept 23, Oct 28, Nov 25, DEC 18
1987: Jan 22, Feb 24, Mar 24, Apr 28, May 25, June 23

Amiga Chapter: Clarkson Secondary School, Bromsgrove, just east of Winston Churchill Blvd., Mississausa; at 7 p.m. in the Little Theatre on the third Wednesday of the month, unless otherwise specified.
1986: Sept 18, Oct 15, Nov 19, Dec 17
1987: Jan 21, FEB 12, MAR 12, Apr l6, May 21, June l8

Westside Chapter: Clarkson Secondary School, Bromsgrove, just east of Winston Churchill Blvd., Mississauga; in the Little Theatre on the third Wednesday of the month, unless otherwise specified.
1986: Sept 18, Oct 15, Nov 19, Dec 17
1987: Jan 21, FEB 12, MAR 12, Apr 16, May 21, June 18

Brampton Chapter: Brampton Public Library, Four Corners Branch, 65 Queen St., on the second Thursday of the month, unless otherwise specified.
1986: Sept 11, Oct 9, Nov 13, Dec 11
1987: Jan 8, Feb 12, Mar 12, Apr 9, May 14, June 11

68000 Chapter (formerly SuperPET): Curtis Lecture Hall C, York University Campus (on the north side of the ROSS Building), on the third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise specified.
1986: Sept 17, Oct 15, Nov 19, DEC 10
1987: Jan 21, FEB 11, Mar 18, APR 8

Commodore 64 Chapter: to be confirmed

Eastside Chapter: Dunbarton High School (go north on Whites Rd. from the traffic lights at Highway 2 and Whites Rd. to next traffic lights; turn left to parking lots), on the second Monday of the month unless otherwise specified.
1986: Sept 8, OCT 6, NOV 10, Dec 8
1987: Jan 12, Feb 9, Mar 9, Apr 13, May 11, JUNE 1

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TPUG on Delphi

by Jane Parris and David Bradley

Copyright © TPUG 1986, 1998.
All rights reserved.

If you are looking for an international online information service, TPUG is pleased to announce our very own section on Delphi. Delphi is easily accessible throught Uninet, Tymnet and Datapac, so you can access locally from almost anyplace in North America. It can also be accessed through comparable networks in other countries.

There are no extra charges for using the TPUG Special Interest Group (SIG) other than Delphi's regular hourly charge. Please note that Delphi has one rate regardless of your transmission speed, so accessing at 1200 baud is a real bargain. This SIG is open only to members of TPUG and you will be asked to leave your membership information before you can access the SIG.

When you enter the SIG you will see a menu. Here is an overview of some of the more widely used features:

Database: In the ever-growing Database you will find recent and classic TPUG library releases for all Commodore machines. These fine programs are available for your downloading pleasure.

Forum: The Forum is the area for posting and reading public messages to and from your fellow TPUG members. It is a great place to debate and exchange technical information, concepts and ideas.

Mail: You can use the Delphi Mail system to send and receive private messages with other TPUG members as well as any other Delphi user.

Poll: In the Poll section you can create, read and vote on polls covering a wide range of topics. A fine opportunity to find out what other TPUG members think about all sorts of things, eh!

Conference: The SIG also offers real time Conferencing where you can have private online talks or participate in group discussions. These talks can be an informal gathering or an organized conference with a specific topic and, sometimes, special guest appearances.

Membership Directory: In the Membership Directory you can post information about yourself and your interests as well as search the directory for members with similar interests. You can also look up profiles of specific members provided that they have entered their information into the directory.

Other Delphi Services

Besides the TPUG section, Delphi has a lot to offer. You can access the latest news from Associated Press, see how your stocks are doing, make travel arrangements and reservations online. You can also participate in multi-player games, try your luck in the Delphi casino, or use your creative talent to add to a collaborative novel. Delphi also offers an extensive research library including access to Dialog and the Kussmaul Encyclopedia.

Accessing the TPUG Section

Now that you know a little about the TPUG SIG and Delphi, you might want to know how you can access this great SIG. First, locate your local network that will allow you to access Delphi. If you have trouble doing this, you can call Delphi at (617) 491-3393 for help. If you are in the United States outside of Massachusetts you can call their Toll Free Hotline at (800) 544-4005.

Once you are connected with Delphi, enter the word tpug at the Username prompt. Then enter the following authorization code: online. You will then go through the standard Delphi online sign-up procedure and will be given access to Delphi the following business day after your information has been verified.

When you are a proud Delphi subscriber you can get to the TPUG SIG simply by entering gr tp at the main prompt. Once you get there, if you have any questions or problems, leave one of the SYSOPs a Forum message. You could leave a private message through the Mail section, but you are likely to get faster and possibly many more replies to your question if you use the Forum. The discussion(s) that result from your question will be of assistance to other new users as well.

Be sure to check the using delphi section from the Main menu to find out about Delphi rates and the famous money-saving Delphi Advantage Plan.

We hope to see you taking advantage of the TPUG SIG on Delphi very soon, eh!

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Copyright © TPUG 1986, 1998.
All rights reserved.

TPUG OFFICE (416) 733-2933

TPUG BBS (416) 273-6300

Board of Directors

President               Chris Bennett     c/o 416/733-2933
Vice-President          Gerry Gold            416/225-8760
Vice-President          Carl Epstein          416/492-0222
                        David Bradley     c/o 416/733-2933
                        Richard Bradley   c/o 416/733-2933
                        Gary Croft            416/727-8795
                        Mike Donegan (evgs.)  416/639-0329
                        John Easton           416/251-1511
                        Keith Falkner         416/481-0678
                        Anne Gudz         c/o 416/733-2933

Meeting Coordinators

C-64 Chapter            Keith Falkner         416/481-0678
                        Gord Campbell         416/492-9518
COMAL                   Donald Dalley     c/o 416/733-2933
                        Victor Gough          416/677-8840
Eastside Chapter        Don Farrow        c/o 416/733-2933
                        Jim Hamilton      c/o 416/733-2933
Westside Chapter        John Easton           416/251-1511
                        Al Farquharson        519/442-7000
Brampton Chapter        William Barrett   c/o 416/733-2933
68000 (nee SuperPET)    Gerry Gold            416/225-8760
                        Avy Moise         c/o 416/733-2933
VIC 20                  Anne E. Gudz (evgs.)  416/766-9307
C128                    George Skinner    c/o 416/733-2933
Amiga Chapter           Mike Donegan (evgs.)  416/639-0329


COMAL                   Victor Gough          416/677-8840
PET                     Mike Donegan (evgs.)  416/639-0329
SuperPet                Bill Dutfield         416/224-0642
VIC 20                  Richard Best      c/o 416/733-2933
Commodore 64            Paul Kreppenhofer c/o 416/733-2933
B-1128                  Paul Aitchison    c/o 416/733-2933
Amiga                   Mike Donegan (evgs.)  416/639-0329
Commodore 128           Adam Herst        c/o 416/733-2933
MS/DOS                  Colin Justason    c/o 416/733-2933

TPUG Bulletin Board

Sysop (voice, weekdays) Sylvia Gallus     c/o 416/896-1446
Assistant Sysop         Steve Punter      c/o 416/896-1446

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1670 Modem-1200
from Commodore

1200 baud modem for C-64, VIC 20, C-128 and Plus/4

Review by David Bradley

Copyright © TPUG 1986, 1998.
All rights reserved.

The 1670 modem from Commodore is a 300/1200 baud modem that supports a lot of the Hayes commands, which have become a de facto standard in the world of microcomputer telecommunications. Thus, it will work with most terminal programs that support the Hayes modem(s).

The 1670 plugs directly into the user port on your Commodore 128, Commodore 64, SX-64 or VIC 20 computer. This means you will not have to buy any additional interface or cable. The 1670 can also be used on the Plus/4, although it does not come with a terminal program for it. (Be sure to refer to page 69 of the 1670 manual for the Plus/4 instructions.) A terminal program that will work with the 1670 and the Plus/4 is available in the TPUG library on disk (C)C4. The modem has a small built-in speaker so that you can hear what is happening when you dial a supposed BBS number.

If you have your 1670 plugged into your computer and connected to your phone system, and your computer is on, the modem will automatically answer the telephone whether there is a terminal program present or not. This can be more than mildly annoying. You can get around the problem by removing the 1670 from your computer, or by unplugging your telephone connection. More conveniently, you can change the modem's default setting of auto-answer with the following little program, which will stop the 1670 from answering the phone until the next time you turn off your computer:

   10 open 2,2,0,chr$(6)+chr$(0)
   20 print#2,"AT S0 = 0""
   30 close 2
   40 end

Remember, this will work only for as long as your computer is on, so if you have loaded in a game and then power down your machine, the program will have to be loaded or typed in and run again. If you have a cartridge in, I suppose you will have to unplug either the modem or the phone line. Rumour has it that Commodore is going to put a switch on the next batch of 1670s they make.

Common Sense, the terminal program included with the modem, seems to be very powerful but, from what I have heard, as well as what I have experienced first hand, it is not for beginners, even with the 1670 manual as a guide. It also does not support Punter protocol for file transfers. It might be of interest to know that Commodore Canada recently asked TPUG for a public domain program they could recommend for use with the 1670. ThirdTerm was the program suggested, and it is available from the TPUG library. There are many other fine terminal programs available in the public domain that will work with the 1670.

The 1670 can be used to run a BBS (Bulletin Board System), but an RS232 Hayes or Hayes-compatible modem would probably be better. If there were a power failure, the 1670 would be back in auto-answer mode as soon as the power returned, even though the BBS program will be dead. For people or PunterNet nodes calling long distance, this can mean a lot of unnecessary long distance charges. A Hayes modem can be configured with DIP switches to not automatically answer a call.

If I were looking for a 300/1200 baud modem for calling BBSs (such as the TPUG BBS) or bigger systems (like the TPUG Section on Delphi), I would get the 1670.

1670 Modem-1200, $299.99 (Cdn.), from Commodore Business Machines, 3370 Pharmacy Avenue, Agincourt, Ontario MlW 2K4.

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Creative Writer
from The G.A.S.S. Co.

Sentence generator for Commodore 64

Review by Marya Miller

Copyright © TPUG 1986, 1998.
All rights reserved.

Creative Writer is supposed to be an 'artifical intelligence' program that creates its own grammar, poetry and curses, but I found it needed an awful lot of help to synthesize syntaxes that actually worked. The poetry module in particular was disappointing. You are supposed to be able to enter your own sentence syntax, following the pattern of a well-known poem; enter your own vocabulary; then sit back while Creative Writer spews out parodies of that famous poem.

A lot of work, with poor results. Half the sentences didn't make sense, syntax-wise. It's no fun when you can only do selected bits of Robert Frost.

There are good things about this program, however. The manual, though very simple in its physical production (i.e. cheap), is also mercifully clear. If you follow it page by page, you will find that there is some truth to author Ken Stange's claim that "C.W. is downright user-obsequious". He has worked hard at making it easy for the user to have instant fun with Creative Writer. He has inserted files the user can load along with his or her own vocabulary files, to save time in construction: 'present tense' transitive and intransitive verb files, for example. This gives the user a taste of the program almost instantly.

Creative Writer also recognizes prepositions, conjunctions and pronouns, which saves the user time when creating syntaxes, but, if the program had been a serious grammatical tool, it might have been better if one had to identify these words when analyzing sentences during syntax creation.

Which brings me to voicing a grave suspicion that Creative Writer was not entirely meant as a serious grammatical aid. Clues? Well, for one, the flippant tone of the (nevertheless lucid and efficient) manual: "First, grin devilishly. Creative cursing is one of life's great joys, and cursing is what is next on the curriculum." He is not kidding. Tutorial I introduces you to how the program works. Tutorial II is called 'Twenty Curses', and the user gets to semi-create. He or she inserts names of friends (?) and whatever vocabulary the user desires, and Creative Writer obligingly and solemnly produces curse after curse for its master's delectation. ("May you have a Russian with a tragic restaurant, and may he hopefully munch on you" was about the tamest, last session.) You can save these creations to disk, for retrieval later, or print them out directly on your printer.

I found making my own syntaxes the most fun (Tutorial III). You key in a sentence, and CW flashes 'Thinking. . .' at you. It doesn't think for long: before you know it, CW is analyzing each word and asking you (with help offered) to identify the word grammatically. Then it tests your syntaxes before your eyes, and gives you the chance to reject ones that don't work.

It's a curiously ambiguous program all the way through. It's not sure if it is meant for fun, or as a learning aid. It's very clever, and yet painfully crude at times (and I'm not talking about the curses, here). It's both intelligent and sniggeringly juvenile. It's addictive the way bad mini-series on TV are: you can spend ages watching the screen, thinking "This one's the last sentence. I really must get up and do some work."

Its style ranges from the sordid to the sublime. It can read like a Harlequin hotbed of perverted passion ("Do you have time for me, my wet skunk, now that you have launched Rebecca?") or as profound as Caine, of Kung Fu ("It is less dainty to have sweated for an enemy than to have sank from sight for a wino."). It can give you great beginnings for short stories or novels ("Underneath it all, Elliot was really a very dull priest.") or do a bad imitation of Dylan Thomas ("It was a dry, handsome painting that Hugh giggled, and he did it without a goddess.")

It would be helpful if the user were able to erase files from within the program. There was also a bug in my copy: after the instructions, the program crashed. All I did, however, was hit run-stop/restore and rerun it, declining the instructions, and it worked fine.

The bottom line is, however, this program is worth the $29.95 (Cdn.) it costs, and I'll probably keep pottering away at the 'poetry creation' section, trying to get it right. It's not a one-time, back-shelf dust collector, by any means. More likely, an insomniac's timekiller.

There are more sophisticated programs of this nature on the market (Mindscape's Racter, for example). But Creative Writer might serve to jog your memory on certain points for grammar, if you happen to be rusty in that area, and it is fun for the frivolous-minded.

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The Hobbit
from Addison Wesley

Adventure Game for Commodore 64

Review by Marya Miller

Copyright © TPUG 1986, 1998.
All rights reserved.

J.R.R. Tolkien would probably have been very pleased with this imaginative adventure game from Addison Wesley, because it attempts to follow his original book faithfully. In fact, the manual warns players who are unfamiliar with Tolkien's work (are there such persons?) that they will have to read The Hobbit itself for clues (particularly Chapter 2). Addison Wesley has obligingly included a copy of the book with the game - a very nice touch.

The package itself is beautifully designed, complete with an original Tolkien illustration on the front of the box and Elvish-looking border artwork. The user's guide is not only delightfully full of original Tolkien illustrations, it is also a masterpiece of clarity, both from a layout point of view and for the intelligent instruction it provides to all levels of player, from the beginner who has never touched an adventure game before to the hardened veteran. The former will be grateful for the well-filled 'hint' section, the mapmaking instructions and the vocabulary assistance. The latter will appreciate the ease with which he or she can skim through the manual picking up key points and peculiarities of this particular game.

Those as linguistically inclined as Professor Tolkien ought to have fun cracking the code of nineteen 'second-level' hints thoughtfully provided in case you get too frustrated, when stuck. And you will get stuck. As Gollum might say, this game can be tricksy, my Precious.

I may as well admit right here that I've had the game since Christmas, and haven't finished it yet. (I have got as far as the Lonely Mountain - no mean feat - but I haven't yet figured out how to stop that dratted dragon Smaug from killing me.) However, it's not one of those frustrating games you eventually abandon in disgust, having got so far and no further. It's the sort of game you come back to, every time you have a precious couple of hours free, to happily immerse yourself in. This game is fun to play, not just to finish. You can play several different ways, producing different outcomes and different circumstances - virtually a different game every time.

Things can happen in this game. There's a boat that appeared the first time I played, but never floated down the stream again, until I was almost convinced I'd imagined it. On one occasion, Bilbo (that is, I) got to Rivendell, and found Elrond and a giant warg lying dead at the gates (obviously they had had a terrific battle). And you can talk to the other characters.

Gandalf and Thorin can accompany you, if you want, and you can ask them to do things for you. This can be useful, and it can also be a lot of fun. I wouldn't advise hitting Thorin, however, no matter how obtuse he can be. Which, actually, is not as obtuse as Elrond, who has a bad hobbit of giving you lunch when you ask him to kill Gandalf. (Real peacemakers, those elves!) And you've got to be careful, because both Thorin and Gandalf are a bit absent-minded and will quietly wander off, right when you need them. (One beef here: it gets boring to have to re-key 'Say to Gandalf' every time you want him to do something. It would have been nice if you could just press one key to repeat the phrase 'Say to' - the same as you can press the @ key to repeat your previous command).

There's a soundtrack with this game - ridiculously absurd music, very grandiose and exactly what you'd expect from hobbits. I haven't tired of it yet. There are spooky sound effects, a truly nasty Gollum, orcs, spiders, elves, a jailer (if you manage to get yourself captured in Mirkwood) and, of course, Smaug the Tremendous himself.

You can play The Hobbit with or without graphics, and this game has the distinction of being the only adventure game whose graphics I enjoy - I skip them when going over old territory, and look forward to them in new.

The Hobbit does have frustrating points. Sometimes you can get quite far into the game and discover that this time round you might as well give up, because you've missed (for example) the elf unlocking the jail door, and it won't happen again in that particular session. What I do, however, is save the game once I actually get past specific sticky points like these; then, if Bilbo gets killed, or makes a fatal error in judgement later (getting himself stuck for ever), I can go back and try again from the position saved - being careful, of course, not to repeat whatever move got me into trouble.

The random factors in the game are a bit of a nuisance in that they are awkwardly random: they either turn up too often, or almost never. And there are a few things that are almost like bugs - for example, that mysterious boat I almost never found again after the first time (you bet I saved that position when I finally did rediscover it!) - but this game is like Tolkien's book: ambitious, funny, charming, magical. . . and you'll go back to it like an old friend, again and again.

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telephone number:
(416) 273-6300

Operating hours:
24 hours per day
7 days per week

The password is. . .

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