Teenage pirates - who is to blame?
THE calculations of software houses are based on the premise that every schoolkid would be willing to buy a tape if they could not obtain a copy.
I would never shell out £15.00 for Sherlock, but if someone offered me a copy I would take it, so how could Melbourne House claim to have lost the £15.00 which I wouldn't have paid anyway?
Of the many Spectrum owners I know, all own at least five original tapes, and most have over 30. So stop getting at the kids - who can't afford any more games than they buy already - and try to get the real pirates who churn out hundreds of copies a day, flogging them at cut prices. Software houses and others, give us a break.
Colin Baxter, aged 15
I WOULD like to comment on Julian Rowland's letter concerning software piracy in the last issue.
It is good to see someone of his age taking a sensible and moral stand on this issue. My school has 10 Spectrums, which are available for games as well as educational use, and I have had to take a very firm line about copying games, to the extent of banning certain boys from the machines.
However, there are two points I would like to make regarding tape copiers. Firstly, most of the boys I found to be copying tapes were doing so using only tape-recorders, notably the dual cassette "ghetto blaster" type. Tape copiers would have been a mystery to most of them, since they were very definitely arcade players rather than would-be programmers.
Secondly, I use a tape copier with no moral scruples at all to transfer programs of all kinds onto microdrive, and I suspect that is their major use. I am quite aware that this may be technically illegal; but if I bought a program, on tape, for my own or school use, and can add the convenience of microdrive, why not? Very few manufacturers seem to be supplying anything on microdrive yet; those who do expect me to pay as much as £8.00 more than for the same program on cassette.
C J Dickinson
I TOO have noticed the huge software piracy which goes on in schools. I know of people who have copied as many as 30 games on one two-hour tape.
I feel a great deal of sympathy for software firms, but surely they could spend more time on protecting their tapes from pirates. Whilst playing Flight Simulation I found it was simple to BREAK into the program. Test Match by CRL is also extremely easy to BREAK into. Many other games are the same. Surely the software firms have only themselves to blame.
David Betteley, aged 15
The world's worst game?
METEOR STORM for the 16K ZX-81 from dk'tronics, is so pathetic I decided to warn people of spending their money on it.
I balanced my cassette holder on the fire button of the computer and manoeuvered my character into the right hand corner of the screen. As I write it is now running.
I believe this game is barely good enough to be a magazine listing, and could be a contender for a record - the only game with a negative Gilbert Factor.
Hacking in the jungle
HAVING JUST hacked my way through Sabre Wulf, I have discovered how to obtain infinite lives.
Load the first part of the program press BREAK and stop tape. Type: POKE 23756,1:CLEAR 65535. Edit the line, move the cursor to the end and delete: PRINT USR 23424: Add line 10, with any of the following POKES: POKE 43575,255 - for infinite lives, one player; POKE 45520,255 - infinite lives, two players; POKE 45599,255 - number of infinite lives (1 to 255); POKE 41725,255 - no limit on gained lives.
Next add line 20: 20 PRINT USR 23424 and then type RUN to load the rest of the program.
I HAVE broken into Cavelon by Ocean Software and discovered a way of getting any level.
First use all of the crosses, then by pressing every key at once the message "Hi, Chris, what do you want?" appears. Then press any key from 1 to 6 and the game returns to normal. Now the game will start from the level pressed. At the end of level six it plays Greensleeves.
Abandoning the ZX-81
THERE HAS been in your magazine a growing, an annoying trend away from the 'dwindling' ZX-81 market towards the Spectrum and now, to my horror, the QL.
Take the September issue for example. Only four of 56 reviews were for the ZX-81. Most of the Hints & Tips, Helpline and nearly all of the Hardware reviews are for the Spectrum. I give up.
Please don't desert us there are still a large number of us around. The ZX-81 remains an excellent beginner's computer. Finally here is a tip for the ZX-81 which helps overcome its annoying limited List function.
To avoid the program text scrolling up the screen as it is typed in, delete an early non-existent large line number about 9000. Upon pressing Return you do not get the last line number at the bottom of a full screen but a screen with the number at the top and the rest clear. It remains that way after subsequent line numbers are added.
Your criticisms have been noted, and we will endeavour to keep the ZX-81 flag flying. Regarding software and hardware reviews, very little for the ZX-81 is produced nowadays, and while this is a regrettable state of affairs, we can only review what we receive.
YOUR correspondents seem surprised that they have had to return the odd Spectrum or two under guarantee. I had my first Spectrum in May of this year. Three months later, my fifth 48K Spectrum crashes anywhere and everywhere. A replacement, machine number six, will, hopefully, be given me next week. Can anybody beat this infamous record?
Incidentally, Sinclair Research as a company has been singularly unhelpful and unsympathetic on the phone, and unusually rude in answering my letters. What a dance it is leading its founder.
I hope this letter will encourage any other unhappy users to complain - not to Sinclair Research, who couldn't care less - but publicly. I hope that if Sir Clive Sinclair should see this he will apologise on behalf of his company for the unfriendly treatment I have received from his staff and assure me that at least one machine is properly tested before it reaches me.
DAVID Levett (Letters, September) should consider himself lucky that he couldn't obtain a 16K Spectrum.
In November 1982 I purchased, direct from Sinclair, a 16K Spectrum for £125, an issue 2. It performed perfectly until June 1983 when the keyboard ceased to function. Taking a note of the serial number I returned the computer to Sinclair's marketing agency.
Imagine my disgust when 28 days later I received an issue 1 Spectrum. By that time, the value of the replacement was £99.95, not the 'equivalent value' required by the Sale of Goods Act.
In common with most other people my letters to Sinclair Research have gone unanswered.
The reasons for this cavalier attitude seem quite clear to me; why should an organisation worth many millions of pounds trouble itself with complaints? We the dissatisfied must just sit back and remember Ted Heath's phrase 'The unacceptable face of Capitalism'.
No bugs on moon
FURTHER to John Lambert's review of Moons of Tantalus in the September issue, in which he stated that there is a bug in the program, we are writing to assure all your readers that the problem has now been corrected and that all copies of the game are now totally bug free.
We should like to thank Sinclair User for its assistance, but would point out that the price of the game is £6.45.
If any of our customers have found that they have a faulty copy of Moons of Tantalus and wish to have it changed, will they please return it to us and we shall be delighted to send them a revised copy, completely free of charge, together with their refunded postage?
Whoops, sorry everyone!
B G Cornhill, Cornhill Services
I AM writing in disgust about Steven Robbie's letter - Sinclair User, September - criticizing your reviews of Halls of the Things and Maziacs.
I have both and I am very pleased with them. Maziacs, far from being monotonous, is exciting and though it's not the hardest Spectrum game ever it is challenging.
All I can say is Steven Robbie has no taste whatsoever.
Andrew Moore, aged 13
I MUST complain at the lack of credibility in your reviews. Mugsy does not deserve a Gilbert Factor of eight as it is, leaving aside the graphics, a dull and repetitive game. Urban Upstart, on the other hand, is an amusing and reasonably complex adventure deserving at least nine.
Games should be reviewed by the age group which plays them and so I suggest a team of younger reviewers.
Apart from those small points Sinclair User is a great magazine easily beating its other rivals.
AFTER READING various reviews of Mugsy and seeing its high placing in the charts I decided to buy it.
I was very disappointed; the graphics are not bad but the game is boring. All you do is type in numbers and the things the characters say are nearly the same every game. There are few scenes.
It is not a patch on The Hobbit and how it gets eight points in Sinclair User I'll never know.
Underlining the easy way
IN THE 'Hints & Tips' article (September) there is given a 'memory remaining' routine. For my 48K machine I have used the much simpler ROM routine: PRINT 65536 - USR 7962.
USR 7962 gives the ROM and RAM in use so by subtracting from your total capacity (65536 for 48K) you get the memory remaining. It also allows for microdrive and net channels.
N H Unitt
Just fancy that
AS AN update to the Chuckie Egg affair last mentioned in the September issue, I am pleased to inform you I have reached level 122 with a score of 2,306,560. It took me four hours 30 minutes, then I had to switch it off before my brother or his Spectrum blew up.
You don't think anyone is going to believe that, do you?
AFTER READING the letters in your September issue I would like to point out that I am the Sabre Wulf king. I finished first on June 7.
For proof see Popular Computing Weekly Vol 3, No 30. For further proof contact Ultimate.
I finished with a score of 124,405 and 80 percent.
Des Claypole, The Sabre King