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Turgen System - Survey Results

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Greetings fellow cassette users,
I would like to share results of the survey and encourage a discussion about them.

Data Recorder Modification

Firstly, I have asked if you have your data recorder modified. In these glorious ages of various SIO2xx devices that replace a disk drive, transfer speeds beyond standard 600 bd are highly desirable. There were many modifications designed in Poland and a few in other countries.
c01_modification.png


It appears that Turbo Blizzard from Poland is still being heavily used. No surprise there, Turbo blizzard comes with good utilities and high transfer speed (~4000 bd). I am also happy to see Rambit Turbo Tape around. Cassette enthusiasts from former Czechoslovakia, where are you?

Functions Used
I was just curious. What functions of Turgen System are used.

c02_functions.png

I am happy to see that all major functions are used. It appears that implementing all these functions was not wasting my time. A funny fact is that the turbo decoder is the most used function. It is exactly the opposite of the original purpose of Turgen System. The conclusion is that I will focus my efforts more on improvements of the turbo decoder. It deserves at least better messaging. The same applies to the tape image extractor.

Wizard for binary files is used more than playlist items and it as it should be. Convenience should always win.

Why to use Turgen System

For what purpose is Turgen System used. Let us see what you do.

c03_purpose.png



We have almost balanced results. It appears that Turgen System is not a money-making machine for selling cassettes. Cassette nostalgia is just so strong.

Documentation and Messages

Technical information engineers always say that a software is only as good as its documentation and error messages. Let us see how do you rate the documentation and error messages. It is a tribute to my English-writing skills. Did you know that I use LYX to create the documentation?

c05_documentation.png
c04_messages.png

 

Good news is that the very most of the users is aware of existence of the documentation. For those who are not aware, I just remind you that there is about 68 pages of useful information shipped with Turgen System. In (Cz)English language.

As for the quality, there definitely is a room for improvement, especially when it comes to the error messages. Please express yourself and let me know what components of Turgen System need better error messages or what sections of the product documentation are not as good as they should be. I think likely candidates are messages of the turbo decoder, but who knows... You know!

Media and Cassette Brands
This was just to determine what media do you use with Turgen System.
c06_media.png
I am more than happy to see heavy usage of real compact cassettes and also some usage of the rare MEGA-CD interface. The cassette adapters and MEGA-CD interface are just fine, but cassettes are cassettes. Old, rugged, but reasonably dependable and don't need silence lists to deal with INIT segments of the binary files.

c07_brands.png

Cassettes of brands that are not manufactured any more (Sony, TDK) beat the brands that are still in production (Maxell, Audio PRO). Hmm.
To the custom wound cassettes, I can only say... WOW. You can get some here.
And how is it possible that there is no Audio PRO usage? Atarians from USA, meet the National Audio Company and buy some.

Other brands were: BASF, FUJI, SKC, RAKS, and JVC.

 

Do you know the C90 project?


Your Knowledge of Binary Files
As the primary function of Turgen System is to convert binary files, It is good to know something about them.

c08_binaries.png

Segments, addresses, vectors... When you hit Dos2BinaryException or Dos2BinaryProcessingException, you will better understand the error messages if you know something about binary files. Get some information right now!

Rating of the Installation Process
I have tried to make the installation process as smooth as possible especially for Windows users. Just an Inno Setup based installer wizard. Next, Next, Next... and there it is. Did you know that I run Inno Setup to create the installer under WINE?

As for users of other operating systems, I took the liberty of presuming that you are advanced (or power) users. No rpm, deb, or dmg packages. Anyone willing to buy me a Mac for testing? I guess not.

c09_install.png

The installation process is not so bad. If you have any suggestions, post a reply. I want the installation process to be good, not just fair.

 

Usage of the Preferences Dialog

The preferences dialog makes Turgen System highly customizable. Did you know that the UI is not static, but it is generated dynamically from configuration entries provided by the plugins?

 

c10_preferences.png

 

There is not much to add. The Preferences dialog is useful and I will do my best to keep it that way.

 

Look and Feel

The user interface of Turgen System is based on the JFC Swing library. This library allows to change the look and feel of the UI elements. Let us see what look and feel do you prefer.

c11_laf.png

Good. Most of you know how to change the look and feel. Windows look and feel is the most used one (no surprise, Windows is a very common OS and looks great). A word of apology to the GTK users - I am sorry for the primitive pre-GTK 2.4 file choosers. It is not my fault. Go to Oracle and complain loudly there.

 

Batch Processing

Batch processing is relatively new function. It allows you to convert whole directories of binary files easily. Together with functions that allow to prefix output file names with tape side numbers, you get a reasonable cassette authoring tool. Let us see what do you think.

 

c12_batch.png

 

There is some usage of this new function and also room for improvement. Please express yourself and let me know what is missing or not as good as it should be.

 

Standard Plugin

The Standard plugin is around for a while. It was designed to convert loaders or accommodate users that have their original data recorders without any modification. A poor man's XEX2CAS or something more?

 

Why the plugin has such strange name - Standard? This comes from Eastern Europe of late 1980's. A significant portion of Atarians had their data recorder modified with some kind of "Turbo" upgrade. To distinguish recordings created with Turbo upgrades from recordings created without them, a term "Standard" was invented. Standard therefore denominates recordings created with non-modified data recorder.

 

 

 

c13_standard.png

The Standard plugin works well. Please let me know what I can improve. I want also the Standard plugin to be excellent.

 

What is the Most Annoying Thing about Turgen System

This was an open question, let us enumerate the most interesting answers

 

Maybe the chunks which need to be connected, I also like to know what is processed - for example if some record will be not recognized, I don't see (hear) what is skipped.

I am not sure if I understand this. I ask the respondent to elaborate in this thread. I think is is either the tape image plugin that skips unknown tape image chunks without a warning or tape image extractor. Please let me know.

 

Don't put cassettes itself ;)

I am sorry, I am not going to design a robotic arm that will do this for you.

 

Java

Java stays. I develop Turgen System in my spare time, and I found Java to be best suited to do some multi-platform rapid application development (RAD) within limited time. It has its drawbacks to be sure, especially memory requirements that are extensive, but the performance is OK. If you are concerned with security issues, be advised that Turgen System never connects to the internet and doesn't handle sensitive data.

 

What other Turbo Systems should Turgen System support?

Also an open question.

 

Special pwmc chunks added by FUJI a8cas tools.

The pwmc chunks are fully supported. If there are any problems it must be a bug. Please let me know what exactly doesn't work.

 

 

Conclusion

I would like to thank all users who participated in the survey. I will continue the development of Turgen System.

Please share your comments now.

 

 

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Great software......really lets me use my Rambit mod here in the UK far more than I could back in the day.

 

How easy is the Turbo Blizzard mod to get here in the UK? I have some spare tape decks that I wouldn't mind converting and having a play with

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Wow, i would never have tought, that somebody would post such an extensive survey about the old cassette system for Atari. Brilliant work.

 

I have to add, that in the Netherlands I sometimes used a software program that could save/load games/programs at a higher speed than 600 baud. I guess, it was 1200 or more baud. Without hardware modifications. Sadly, I forgot what program I used in those days (80s/early 90s).

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Great software......really lets me use my Rambit mod here in the UK far more than I could back in the day.

 

How easy is the Turbo Blizzard mod to get here in the UK? I have some spare tape decks that I wouldn't mind converting and having a play with

 

I believe that getting Turbo Blizzard will not be easy. The mod was not sold separately. You brought your data recorder to the Atares company's shop and it was modified there. So the only way to get Turbo Blizzard now is to buy a modified data recorder at eBay or allegro.pl if one happens to be available.

 

If you do like soldering, the schematics are available at http://atariki.krap.pl/index.php/Turbo_Blizzard, so an universal PCB and some soldering will do the job. There are also some instructions at the page. Turbo blizzard is designed for XC12.

 

Another possibility is to try Czechoslovak Turbo 2000/Super Turbo. The simplest version is easy to create - http://www.atarimax.com/jindroush.atari.org/data/aturbo/sch_t2_2.gif. With appropriate cross-loader, it is possible to load files stored with Turbo Blizzard (I have succesfully tried). Maximum transfer speed I've reached with this mod is 5000 bd, which is more than enough. You will need an extra wire for the command signal if it is not connected.

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Wow, i would never have tought, that somebody would post such an extensive survey about the old cassette system for Atari. Brilliant work.

 

I have to add, that in the Netherlands I sometimes used a software program that could save/load games/programs at a higher speed than 600 baud. I guess, it was 1200 or more baud. Without hardware modifications. Sadly, I forgot what program I used in those days (80s/early 90s).

 

There were numerous utilities doing so. I think it was CBAUD. Merely a tweak of the Atari OS that allowed higher baud rates.

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Slightly OT but can I say I love the Curse of the Lost Miner + update, I'd not played it before, had seen it but not had a chance to play and I love it, just the right level of frustration and must have one more go. Thank you for making it...

 

Paul..

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Slightly OT but can I say I love the Curse of the Lost Miner + update, I'd not played it before, had seen it but not had a chance to play and I love it, just the right level of frustration and must have one more go. Thank you for making it...

 

Paul..

 

Thank you, Paul.

 

Curse of the Lost Miner is a frustrating madness - that is the most common kind of feedback I get. But the game can be played and finished (I strongly believe that the players don't have patience to master the controls), because I am always able to play the game with different types of controllers, though the CX-40 is the best to play the game.

 

I was also talked into porting the game to Atari 5200 with its infamous controllers. I have never played it on real 5200 (emulator only). It must be even greater madness.

 

Michael

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Michael,

 

I firmly believe people have forgotten just how the early games were, yes they were frustrating but you actually became a better gamer from playing them, you mastered a more dexterous control rather than this aim assisted 3D stuff of today which is why when I see that old classics have been ported to the PS4 etc the reviews often say they are too hard and frustrating but to the old time gamers it was just how they were and you were able to play and complete them.

 

How the same review people would fare at Spelunker, Jumpman and your game etc would make me laugh, they mistake challenging as too hard...

 

Pah :)

 

Paul...

 

Who has complete Jumpman, Spelunker and a whole host of 'challenging games' :)

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I have started working on something for users of polish KSO Turbo 2000 or Turbo 2000F. The basic file format is just fine, but requires 3 KB buffer + 1 KB for the loader. This may prevent some games occupying lot of memory from being loaded.

Now I have isolated source code of the routine that loads a block to given buffer. This will allow me to construct a binary loader and support "Nowy format" (Turbo 2000F+) which is better suited for loading memory-intensive binary files.

 

I will not forget to share the source code in the loaders package when this is finished.

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