Q. Can you tell me whether the major software houses intend to publish modifications to their software to tun on the long-awaited Sinclair Microdrives?
I have several utility programs, purchased at some cost, which I find cannot translate for use on the Microdrive. Does this really mean that I will have to wait until Microdrive versions of these programs are available and then spend the same money over again?
Maybe you can also explain why Psion's address does not appear on its software or advertising material. Could it be just to avoid the sort of enquiries I'm trying to make?
B. E. Turner, Doncaster, South Yorkshire
A. Unfortunately saving a tape program onto Microdrive isn't as simple as just altering the SAVE and LOAD routines. The problem is that you'll probably find yourself overwriting areas of memory, so when you try to run it from Microdrive it's likely to crash.
Tasman Software is playing fair on this one, and is willing to supply a list of amendments to the Basic part of the program to make it Microdrive compatible, but other manufacturers aren't likely to be so friendly.
The position is that, if you break into a program, the manufacturer is more likely to prosecute you than help you, their reasoning being that breaking and entering is tantamount to piracy. Now, if the program is one of those, like Tasword, that allow you to enter Basic to modify the program, there should be no real question of piracy. It would be nice of the company to help you, but they're under no real obligation to do so.
There is one set of routines that might help in situations like this. Friendly Face, from Monitor, 01-937 9801, is a tape or Microdrive package that presents ways of converting software to Microdrive. It doesn't help you break into a program, so any software houses reading this can put their lawyers back in the box.
You're quite right, Psion doesn't give an address or phone number. In Psion's case this may be because Sinclair is the publisher of the software (though there's still no phone number).
Many software houses, however, don't bother giving you a way of getting in touch with them. In some cases it's simply thoughtlessness, but whatever the reason, it's thoroughly reprehensible. As customers certainly provide a service to the software houses' bank accounts, it's about time the software houses provided a proper service to customers.