Part II: A Review of SpeedyWrite V2.0
by David Sands
However, like David Cobley, the ADVISA's editor, and once a SHOWOFF II / SmartWRITER user who thought he couldn't learn to use anything else, I too have succumbed to the attractions of this small, versatile, quick and very broadly featured word processor.
Speedy, as it seems to be known, was written by David White, and somewhere I have read that he was 14 years old at the time. If so, this kid has a hell of a future in programming. Even for an adult, this program would be an immense accomplishment.
To get the details out of the way, it seems to be available on disk and or datapack from ADAM's House and N.I.A.D. Disk prices average (U.S.) 29.95 for SpeedyWrite V1.0, 39.95 for SpeedyWrite V2.0, and 24.95 for SpeedyWrite Spell (a 10,000 word dictionary program that requires a 64K expander card). My program is the V2.0, apparently an improved version of the first in that it offers printing on a dot matrix printer and formatting for those printers along with numerous other options. If you are going to use your ADAM printer, you can use the salad version, but the Spell program won't work with it.
Speedy's got a lot of talents. To start with, a brief comparison with SmartWRITER will show Speedy ahead on almost all counts. The almost comes in because in one major area, accessing and saving files, Speedy seems a little clunky, although the steps are very similar. Screen display is, for example, a white screen with a blue box outline border and blue type. You can change background and type to any one of 16 colors with SmartKEYs I and II, except on black and white TV's and my green monitor, where they can be used to make the screen illegible.
You get 22 lines of typing within the borders and the full width of the screen. There are no on-screen SmartKEY displays. Prompts, like 'Insert Mode On...' appear on the top border line. Insert Mode is one of the adorable features of SpeedyWrite. SmartWRITER is locked into 'overtype' mode. While it has overtype, Speedy lets you select Insert Mode (with the Insert Command Key or with the CONTROL+A key combination.)
A word about CONTROL+KEY combinations is essential here: any CONTROL+KEY means hold down CONTROL and press the appropriate LETTER key at the same time. The advantage to CONTROL+KEY combinations is in typing speed; your fingers stay on the keyboard. It's the system used in Wordstar, the original bestselling word processor (there were earlier ones) and in Word Perfect 5.1, etc., as well as the current fave for Macs and PC's. Don't confuse Insert Mode with the 'Insert' of SmartWRITER. In Insert Mode, you can whip back into any place in your work and add anything; no key presses, wait, and screen below the cursor vanishing, and longer wait to get it back when you're Done. With 'Insert Mode On...' you drop the improvement into your already superb writing, and keep going; the type already on the screen adjusts to make room as you type in the latest inspiration of genius. I use it all the time.
The knock on CONTROL+ KEY combination programs is that you have to remember what the combinations are. As David Cobley said only tonight, the memory is the second thing that goes. But you don't miss it because you can't remember it. [Both of us have solved the problem by posting handy lists of the codes by the ADAM. As to what the first thing that went was, I can't find the list for it anywhere.]
SpeedyWrite also offers the ADAM's command keys as alternatives to many Control+Key combinations. The INSERT key (Control+A), CLEAR (Control+C), MOVE / COPY (Control+B) and PRINT (Control+P) are examples. The SmartKEYs have various built-in functions and SHIFT+SmartKEYs are used for SpeedyWrite's Macro functions, of which, more later.
I like SpeedyWrite's screen display; it looks a lot like SmartWRITER's Moving Window format. Everything you type stays within the border, and you move around quickly with the arrow keys and quicker with HOME+ARROW combinations. And a HOME+LEFT ARROW combination will jump the cursor back to the beginning of each previous sentence, in order, in your work. HOME+RIGHT ARROW jumps ahead, sentence by sentence. LEFT and RIGHT ARROW keys control the cursor as in SmartWRITER, but in SpeedyWrite, UP and DOWN ARROWS scroll the screen 20 lines at a time. You can't jump the cursor down two or three lines for a shortcut. If you type the interminable paragraphs I do, you can watch the cursor a lot, until you learn to put periods where you had commas, and not run your paragraphs on and on.
So stop already and mention the word court feature. I am now at word 945 from the start of this article, an amazing true fact I discovered by pressing HOME+UP ARROW and then CONTROL+W. And very quickly. SpeedyWrite is written in Z80 machine code, and it is a fast and responsive program: you rarely wait for it, something you cannot say for SmartWRITER.
Incidentally, I hope there's a special place in Hell for the Coleco guy who came up with the affected way all ADAM programs were typographically designated with the last half always capitalized. Even SpeedyWrite sometimes seems to follow the convention, though sometimes not, one of the more charming features of the complete, if eccentric, documentation. It's eccentric in that it's the only manual I've ever read that is frank about what you can't do in a program, and where you'll run into problems. It's also well organized.
Most of us use only a portion of the features any program offers, unless it happens to be a big part of your life. That's one of the shortcomings of SmartWRITER: it has no room for expansion. Speedy, on the other hand, has plenty.
The next installment will deal with the more advanced and convenient features of SpeedyWrite V2.0. In the meantime, here is a listing of other SpeedyWrite V2.0 features to wet your appetite:
Also, for you hard drive owners a special patch is available that will allow SpeedyWrite V2.0 to work properly from either the OBS Mini-Winnie or M.I. PowerMATE series of hard drives. It is available only through HLM / GMK Software & Hardware Co. for a nominal fee.