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Article #11 (29 is last):
Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.16-32bit.reviews
From: aa400@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Marc A. Lombardo)
Subject: SLICCTOP/Desktop Replacement/Commercial
Posted-By: xx004 (aa400 - Marc A. Lombardo)
Reply-To: aa400@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Marc A. Lombardo)
Date: Mon Jul 15 14:45:42 1991

SLICCTOP
AIM Magazine, June 1991
Written by Gary Klugman (SVACE)


     It is great to see something new that is really innovative 
for the ST.  Randy Foster, programmer and president of SLICCWARE, 
is a talented programmer and a person with vision.

     SLICCTOP is a true replacement operating system.  All of 
GEM's dialogue boxes are replaced.  The icons are changed and the 
menu bar across the top is different.  The operating system is 
similar enough to GEM that ST users can use it immediately.  The 
single most innovative feature is that it has multitasking 
capabilities.


Getting Started

     SLICCTOP comes with manual, a couple of loose addendums and 
two disks.  The manual is inexpensively produced, made up of 
lightweight paper, and contains screen capture illustrations.  
That is forgivable for a $49.95 program.  It is sadly missing an 
index.

     The manual starts with the very basics of using your 
computer. In a real way, it is like a manual that would come with 
your computer.  The writing style seems like a programmer wrote 
it.

     Indeed, Randy Foster published it using PageStream.  
Sometimes, it seemed mundane, other times the explanation was too 
technical or too brief.  Still, it gets the job done.

     SLICCTOP can only be used with a hard drive, and it needs an 
ST with at least a megabyte of memory.  The program installs 
itself on the hard drive when you run an install program.  The 
installation was simplicity itself, a real modell for other 
programs.

     The process installs SLICCTOP.PRG and SLICCTOP.ACC, as well 
as numerous invisible files.  The install sequence determines 
wheter you have TOS 1.4 or later.  If you have an earlier version 
of TOS, the installation adds a program to your auto folder.  With 
TOS 1.4 and later, the installation utility modifies the 
DESKTOP.INF.

     The installation software even determines if you have two 
floppy disk drives.  That way, you won't need to swap disks.  If 
you are worried about SLICCTOP's invisible files or changing your 
DESKTOP.INF, there is no need for concern.  SLICCTOP will 
completely remove itself from your hard drive if you want.

     The new desktop will have icons for all your installed drives 
and partitions.  When you move your mouse, the pointer flutters as 
it moves across the desktop.  There is a resettable clock in the 
upper right side.  You also see two "trash cans." One is the icon 
labeled Incinerator.  The incinerator acts like the GEM trashcan.  
There is also the circular file.  Files dragged to the circular 
file will be stored in a subdirectory called TRASH.  These files 
can be restored if they were deleted by accident.


Messing with Menus
     
     One of the most exciting features is accessed from the upper 
left of the menu bar.  Under the item called "Open" is a drop-down 
menu.  Here, any program can be run very quickly and easily.  
also, other routine desktop procedures can be done instantly.  One 
example is that, if you tend to go to a specific folder on a 
certain partition on a regular basis, it can easily be done from 
this menu.

     There are nine of these "auto" items on this drop down menu.  
Choose one of these and you are presented with another menu of up 
to 16 choices. The choices can be of programs you want to run or 
places you want to be on your hard drive.  This adds up to 144 
different processes that can be done from the drop-down menu.

     These 144 installed processes are not automated recordings.  
You don't see the process of selecting a drive, then a folder, 
next a program, and finally running the program.  The program is 
selected on the drop-down menu and runs from there.

     Of course, programs require time to load.  During this time, 
a spinning clock (like on a Macintosh) is displayed, instead of 
the busy bee.  Once the program is executed, the user can 
terminate the program immediately and roll back to the desktop.  
At the desktop, normal functions can be done.  The user can then 
roll back to the same place in the program when exited.  This 
feature was extremely helpful in writing this review.


More than a GEM

     While SLICCTOP operates similarly to GEM, it has commands of 
its own.  For the power user, there are lots of keyboard 
equivalents.  Although the mouse is friendlier, pressing one or 
two keys is much faster.  To be a power user, you will have to 
read the manual.

     The SLICCTOP dialog boxes give the user the keyboard 
equivalents for mouse movements.  The user can decide to keep 
their hands on the keyboard for speed, or use the mouse for ease.

     SLICCTOP allows the user considerable control over routine 
tasks like disk formatting.  The number of tracks and sectors can 
be chosen.  When copying one floppy disk to another, SLICCTOP will 
format the destination floppy if it isn't already formatted.  If 
the destination disk already has files on it, a diskcopy can merge 
the files from one disk to another.  The choice is made by the 
user before the diskcopy is done.  Whole floppy disks can be 
erased rather than reformatting by dragging the disk icon to the 
incinerator.  This is a much faster alternative to deleting files 
individually.

     There is no set limit to the number of windows that can be 
opened!  

     You can even set the computer's boot delay time, so the hard 
disks can warm up before the computer kicks in.

     Multitasking is one of the most unique things about SLICCTOP.  
SLICCTOP can indeed truly multitask, although multitasking is 
slow.  I transfered files from the hard disk to a floppy disk from 
the desktop.  During the transfer, I loaded TimeWorks WordWriter 
and edited a document.  I left WordWriter, loaded Interlink and 
called a bulletin board.

     To be spiteful, I tried to read the floppy that I was writing 
to.  The program crashed an the hard disk rebooted.  All things 
considered, rebooting is not the worst kind of crash.

     SLICCTOP cannot multitask programs that take over the 
operating system. Therefore, most popular programs will not 
multitask. One cannot be using WordWriter and their 
telecommunications prgoram at the same time.  The user can 
multitask desktop routines, like moving files, while running their 
favorite program.  Still, if a program was opened using SLICCTOP, 
you can exit the program t any point and "roll over" to the 
desktop. Once at the desktop, files can be moved and house-keeping 
chores can be done.  Then, at any time, you can roll back to the 
original application.

     True multitasking has been a goal for ST users for a long 
time. We are the last of the 16-bit computers to get it.  Randy 
said the hardware is not amialbe to multitasking.  The limited 
multitasking that SLICCTOP allows is in one word, slow.  Keyboard 
response time can be slowed down as it competes for processor 
time.

     Many of the things that we would like to do in a multitasking 
environment cannot be done with SLICCTOP.  Running two 
applications can only be done by programs specifically written for 
SLICCTOP.

     Randy Foster is planning to publish applications that will 
multitask using SLICCTOP.  In the works is a word processor, 
editor, and telecommunication program.  These programs and other 
utilities will be made available to registered users directly from 
SLICCWARE.  By selling direct, costs can be kept down.  Plans are 
to sell these programs and utilities in the range of $10 to $25.

     Since backup is an important thing to all hard disk users, 
SLICCTOP has a powerful backup utility.  There is a great amount 
of powerful flexibility built in.  The user can backup by 
directories, by the last time things were backed up, or simply 
backup everything.  All backups can be done from one point on the 
hard drive to another, as well as from the hard drive to a floppy.

     Randy Foster spent two years developing SLICCTOP, and he is 
dedicated to supporting it.  He is readily available by phone for 
questions. I called him just after he sent out a free update.  He 
had just discovered that the update had a bug in it, and he was 
temendously disturbed by this.  He was in the process of sending 
out a corrected version within 48 hours.  He was also planning on 
calling as many registered users as he had phone numbers for.  Not 
bad for a program that retails for under $50.  If felt that he 
considers this program to be his baby, and above all, he wants it 
right.


Finally

     I like SLICCTOP.  As I continue to use it, I see the thought 
that went into its development.  I will continue to automatically 
boot into SLICCTOP after this review.
     
     The average ST user can get laong fine with the GEM 
interface. However, if you wnat to exercise more control over your 
ST and you like having the alternative of keyboard equivalents for 
mouse movements, SLICCTOP is for you.  If you think multitasking 
is "sexy" then SLICCTOP is your only choice in desktop 
replacements.




-- 
Marc A. Lombardo           User Address:aa400@cleveland.freenet.edu   ~ ~ ~
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Atari ST, MIDI, Music                                                ~~ ~ ~~
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