Multi-Loader, EOS, SmartBASIC v1.5,
Pro-Load and Pro-Copy
by Joe Waters


SOURCE: Practical Programs
4318 Monroe Avenue
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49002-2063
Format: Flippy DDP or disk
Price: $8.95 U.S. (Free with any other
software purchase from
Practical Programs.)

This disk is basically a huge revision on Coleco's
SmartBASIC 1.0. Multi-Loader is the boot block replacement for
the rather unimaginative one located on the standard SmartBASIC;
instead of blanking the screen and loading BASIC, this one gives
informative information and allows you a choice of options on
what exactly you wish to load. By holding down different keys
and pulling the computer reset switch with the disk in the drive,
you have a choice of loading SmartBASIC by itself, SmartBASIC
with the EOS revision, SmartBASIC with the EOS revision and
ProLoad, or any combination of the above. The EOS is the same
deal that you get with your Disk Manager software when you buy
your disk drive from Coleco; it loads the most recent revision of
EOS (Extended/Enhanced <depending on who you ask> Operating
System) from the disk and then proceeds with it's task. I have
been wondering ever since I got my first disk drive some 5 years
ago what good this EOS revision does, and I still don't know.
I'm sure that it's good for something though, although I have one
of the first beta test ADAMs and I can't tell much of a
difference. I think (though I havn't taken the time to play with
it yet) that one of the revisions allows bi-directional printing
for the ADAM printer in SmartBASIC... The EOS option is a nice
one to have though, because otherwise if you wanted to have a
SmartBASIC with the newer EOS installed, you needed to boot Disk
Manager first (which takes around 30 seconds all by itself) and
then use the "RUN FILE" option from there to run SmartBASIC
(another 20 seconds or so.) Thie whole shooting match from
Practical Programs loads in just under 30 seconds, so there's a
huge time savings. Just for the sake of completion, I tested the
Practical Programs SmartBasic vs. two public domain versions of
SmartBASIC 2.0, my own version of SmartBASIC 1.0 (the Coleco
original), and my SmartBASIC 1.0 plus the Disk Manager EOS boot.
The Practical Programs version comes up with EOS revision 7,as
do the two versions of BASIC 2.0 (both include the same revision
file on disk), while SmartBASIC 1.0 by itself comes up with
revision 5 (I *TOLD* you I have an old ADAM!) and revision 7 if
I boot Disk Manager first. In all the years I've had my revision
5 EOS, I havn't seen anything different from it and revision 7
(though I must admit that I wasn't looking very closely.)
However, whether or not you are in need of the EOS revision,
that's not the big part of the picture here. The really nice
piece of software here is the new SmartBASIC 1.5. This highly
modified version of SmartBASIC has a whole slew of bug patches
built into the program; no more need for a lengthy HELLO program
just to "fix" BASIC. Included are fixes for the DATA/REM phantom
space bug, INIT initializes blocks free for disk and DDP, PR#2
prints straight to your parallel printer interface, RECOVER
recovers "h" files now, and, one that I found VERY useful, BRUN
and BLOAD now run/load programs from a different drive without
having to specify a load address (like "BRUN JUNK,D6") will work
correctly in SmartBASIC 1.5, while it will not in either BASIC
1.0 or SmartBASIC 2.0. Also, the input line length has been
increased to 239 characters (from SmartBASIC 1.0's 128) so you
can stuff more junk on one line. While all of these
modifications can be accomplished by anybody with various patch
programs, I've always been annoyed having to wait for twelve
blocks of SmartBASIC "HELLO" program to load JUST TO FIX WHAT'S
WRONG WITH BASIC. This is a very welcome piece of software,for
that reason alone.
But wait, there's more. If you order now, you get this FREE
set of GINSU STEAK KNIVES! It slices. It dices. It cuts
through steel rods! Watch our trained professional take down
this charging rhino with nothing but a GHINSU BUTTER KNIFE!
(Whoops, they're having that home shopper thing on TV, I
sometimes get carried away. Sorry about that.)
Don't go away yet though; there really is more. Along with
Multi-Loader, EOS, and SmartBASIC 1.5, you get two FastLoaded
SmartBASIC programs: Pro-Load and Pro-Copy. Pro-Load boots up
from SmartBASIC 1.5 if no HELLO program is found. It firsts
prompts you to set the date (which can be skipped if you wish by
pressing <RETURN>), and then loads a directory of all of the
files on the disk. It is completely driven with the
the arrow keys, and is extremely user friendly. The program will
allow you to run or load any program from any disk/DDP at the
touch of a couple of buttons; the user can also, of course, elect
to drop through to SmartBASIC. The other BASIC program included
on this disk is Pro-Copy. This program at first appeared to be
similar to Coleco's File Manager utility that I mentioned
earlier. After playing with it for a while though, I found some
interesting features. Pro-Copy will allow the user to copy
individual or multiple files from any disk to any DDP in any
combination. The program also allows you to copy system files
(such as the SmartBASIC or SmartLOGO program FILES) to different
disks and DDPs; it will also copy the boot blocks that go with
these programs, and allow you to rename them on-the-fly if you
wish. Although I havn't had much of a need to use this piece of
software yet (I use mostly CP/M) it appears to be very
professional and well done.
When you consider the price of this package and what you get
for it, this appears to be a great value. Practical Programs is
obviously in this business for the user, not the money; I figure
they could legitimately charge $25 or $30 and still have people
buying it. This is a very well done package, and well worth the
miniscule price.
 

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