CFOG's PIP, October 1988, Volume 7 No. 5, Whole No. 67, page 76

What Every CP/M Computer User Should Have

by Jonathan Shimberg

When you first turn on your computer, you really do not understand or realize what you have available to you with the touch of your fingertips. When you start you may hunt and peck around Wordstar 2.6, 3.0, 3.3 or 4.0. You may even begin to use spreadsheets or Dbase, as these programs may have come bundled with your computer when you got it Then if you had good ears or talked to the right people you've heard about CFOG, paid your dues and received a new members disk full of programs you never knew existed and don't really understand what they do. The purpose of this article is to try and help you deal with your machine and get as much use out of the programs on that disk as you can as a novice user, or even when you've been using the machine a long time but never got around to using these programs. The following programs are some that I find useful either at home or at the office and are, I believe, in the public domain.

  1. NSWP207.COM. I don't understand how I ever lived without this marvel. Dave Rand and his predecessors deserve a Noble (sic) Prize for this wonder. There are two versions, at least, out there -- one for CP/M and one for MS-DOS. As far as the CP/M is concerned, there are Kaypro and Osborne specific versions (using the video attributes) and a generic one available. The program allows you to rename, copy, print, delete, squeeze, mass copy ... files. It helps you organize your hard drive or floppy disks with ease. Most rename the programs itself to S.COM or NS.COM to save their fingers wear and tear.

  2. NULUCOM. If you copy CFOG disks or copy programs from FOG disks or download from a remote system, you get LBR files. That's a bunch of files tucked into one file called a "library". To get the files out you must have a library utility program of some type. NULU is one of these. It allows you to get in the libraries created by others to access and extract the files from the libraries. It has a "command" mode and also has a "sweep" mode similar to NSWP. In addition you can build your own libraries to save space on your disk or drive. For example on Kaypro floppy disks the minimum file size is 2 K even if the program itself only uses 1 K. You can put a number of 1 K files in a library where the sum takes up less space than the total of the individual files. It also frees up directory space. A Kaypro has only 64 directory spaces. It is possible to have 64 small files fill up a 390 K disk and only use 128 K of space. A library of those small files might only take 10 or 20 K of space and 1 directory entry. Imagine the possibilities. I've just gotten a copy of VLU.COM, a slight variation from NULU. So far I've discovered that VLU uncrunches as well as unsqueezes files, giving in an edge over NULU in that department. When you create libraries it automatically crunches files while it puts them in the library. (I'm told that crunched files are smaller than squeezed files.) So far I like it, but it won't print out a file, which NULU will.

    (For beginners QL 4.0 might be the ideal LBR file tool: it lists all the files on the logged drive and user area, numbered. Just enter the number of the file you want to view -- it doesn't matter if it's squeezed or crunched. If it's a program rather than text, you'll get a HEX listing instead of the text. You can search for a string in the text. You can specify which page <screenload> you want to read by entering the number. Enter the number of a LBR file and it lists the members of the LBR: you can view any file, just as with a file that's not in a LBR. Enter "E<cr>" and you can enter the number of a LBR member file that you want to extract. QL 4.0 automatically unsqueezes or uncrunches as it extracts the file. If you're not adding files to LBR files, QL may be the only library utility you need.)

  3. LRUN.COM. Apparently developed for bulletin board and hard disk users, this program allows you to place those a number of little programs in a library and run them. Let's say I've place those programs in a library called U.LBR With LRUN you enter

    LRUN U <filename><cr>

    and off it goes. I'm just learning the benefits of this as I've bunched small utility programs on my floppies. [LRUN defaults to a file called COMMAND.LBR if none is specified, Jon. Just call your collection of utilities COMMAAD.LBR and you can enter:

    LRUN <filename><cr>

    with out specifying the LBR name. Better yet, shorten LRUN.COM to L.COM. -- bhc]

  4. MFDISK.COM. Donated by Kaypro to the public domain this family of programs tell your A or B drive or both it's a different computer. It handles nowhere as many disk formats as UNIFORM or other commercially available programs, but for free, don't complain. [Jon steps outside the scope of his title here: every CP/M user should have a disk format program, and UniForm is one of the best. Unfortunately, MFDISK runs only on Kaypros. -- bhc]

  5. DISK.COM. Taking up less space than NSWP.COM it does many but not all of the things NSWP does. If you're a single density or single-sided user you might want to try it. [But I loaded it last night and it took a second longer than NSWP207 to load and list the files! -- bhc]

  6. VDE???.COM. When I was writing my first draft it was version 2.63. The last I noticed it was 2.65. [Now -- as of August 22, 1988, the latest version, issued June 26, 1988, is 2.66. Eric Meyer promises, or threatens, that this should be the last CP/M version. -- bhc] Most importantly, VDE is a small text editor which does many, but not all of the things Wordstar does in on under 16 K. Ben Cohen has forgotten about Wordstar and does all his writing with VDE. In fact I'm writing this article with it right now. It's much fast than Wordstar in moving around the document but doesn't have all the bell and whistles, just the bells. [See separate articles in PIP VoL 7, #4, June 22, 1988, Whole No. 66, on VDE Version 2.66 and on setting up various printers for use with VDE. -- bhc]

  7. BD05.C0M. Many of us have used FINDBAD.COM to check out disks for bad sectors. After the disk was checked and some bad sectors were found you never knew what file was bad. Now with BADDISK.COM you know the answer. A must, as floppies do wear out.

  8. SD.COM. If you started with an Osborne, you got XDIR.COM, or you're know familiar with D.COM. Well this one is SUPER D.COM. A must for hard disk owners, this program, with the right instructions, will check any specified or all user areas, print the directory in a disk file or on your printer, including libraries, file sizes, and file attributes.

  9. RECVER21.COM. You you blew it, like we all have, and erased a file you did not mean to. A menu-driven program, RECVER21 will bring back from the dead your erased file, if you haven't written over it. Apparently its close cousin worked in IRANGATE, as that is how they recovered some documents from a hard drive, but I always have problems with it on my Kaypro 10. Whenever I run it the extra line comes on with SYSTEM STATUS 2. Why??? [I don't know. Try using DD.COM, the Kaypro specific small super directory program and UNERASE19.COM. DD.COM will list all erased files on a drive if you tell it DD D#:<cr> and UNERASE19 will recover the files nicely, even allowing wild cards. I've never had problems except when there were two files with the same name that were both erased. You need a disk editor like DU.COM to fix those situations. -- bhc]

This only begins to scratch the surface of what is available but I think its a good place to start.