Back from death’s door PAUL EVANS looks through his mail and finds some very peculiar letters...

WAAAAAA! Pardon me. I’m just recovering from tharangitus (I think that’s how you spell it) and it’s nice to have my voice back, so a good scream is needed! Now I have completely, well, nearly recovered I’ve crawled to the old desk, activated the old modem (sheesh, ’bout time I got some new equipment, ’init!) and Prestel is still giving me hassle! It seems I have regained access to one of the two computers I am allowed to log-on to (Prestel is made up of around twenty computers, dotted around the country. Mine’s in Brum!) and as which computer I am sent to is not decided by moi, half the time I can’t log-on! However, I did manage it about a week ago and collected some mail, so it’s more or less a forum this month!


I seem to have met quite a bunch of weirdos on the ’Net in the past year or so, so a lot of this mail has been edited as some bits are just too uncool and heavy for me to cope with! (I never knew you could do that to a wombat!)

The strangest letter of all came from an object calling itself Taffwyn Twainer (according to her this means Kathryn Trainer(?)). She mutters the following:

Dear Paul
Been pretty bored lately, so I thought I’d write! (Well thank you! — Paul) Have you any idea how many VTX modems you can stack up without them falling over? (No — Paul) No? (No — Paul) That’s funny, neither do I! (Oh dear, this one is way off her tree, call the men in white coats! — Paul) Anyway, to a less serious point (Arrrgghh — Paul), what’s happened to the telesoftware gateway? I can’t seem to log-on it at all! Can you find out what’s going on? Oh yes, before I forget, I believe it’s your birthday soon (Yup, cards and prezzies to the usual address please — Paul) so have a weally wuvely birfday wiv lots of wuvely fings ’appenin’ and no hoble fings to wuin it from a wuvilier than wuveliest wuvely in the whole world.

That last bit was a pain to type (and read — Ed) and I’m still working on what it means. As regarding the telesoftware gateway, I still haven’t a clue what is going on. For those of you not in the know, the telesoftware gateway is a new Amiga run system which can handle telesoftware for just about any computer that uses a modem. However, the new all-fantastic software that runs this system seems to be suffering a few bugs, or maybe a virus! This has lead to the system repeatedly crashing, normally in the early hours of the morning! So Micronet have suspended its use until further notice. This has been the situation for a few weeks now with no news of it reopening. As soon as I get fully onto Prestel I’ll start asking questions. However, knowing the strange time-delay world of journalists, by the time you read this all will be okay. I should be a time-lord, me! Which reminds me, a big hi (am I allowed to do this? probably not!) to the gang at LEGEND, the Merseyside Sci-Fi Telefantasy group, apparently I have some fans there! (WOW, me famous!)

Now a nice serious letter from the first of the two Stevens that have written in.

Dear Paul
I was fascinated to read your article in the January issue on a reset switch for the VTX5000 modem, as I have for some time wondered about just such a facility.

Your detailed explanation and diagrams are a sheer pleasure to follow — I think I have found the track and points 1 and 2. The problem is, I have been unable to obtain the N1001 diode, after trying the electronics shops on Edgware Road in London including Henry’s!

Would you kindly let me know:

1 If the N1001 is also known by another number;

2 Or it is possible to use a different diode eg N4001;

3 And if not, where could I get an N1001?
Stephen Hiew

Thanks for your compliments, actually I was a bit dissatisfied that the instructions were not clear enough! I have rechecked and the diode in my own modem is labelled either NI001 or N1001, it is a bit hard is distinguish between I or 1. I do not believe it is known by another number but I think a N4001 will do the job just as well. If you still want a N1001/NI001 then try Maplin Electronics (in your yellow pages!).

Yet another Steven...

Dear Paul
I am writing to ask you for advice on buying and using a modem. I am an owner of a Spectrum +2 and I wish to know if there is any option but to buy a VTX. Are there different types of VTX and which one would be the best for me to use? Once I have bought a modem, what are the subscription charges to the various organisations? I gather that the charges are 7p or 1p, are these the final charges, or are these on top of the phone call? Would I have to buy any additional software for a modem to work, and how do you get your own mailbox? And how much is the VTX?
Steven Mullen

Okay, loads of questions here.

  1. Yes, Spectre Communications in Lancaster market an advanced package that works with the +2 at around £100. It’s very good and versatile. I did a review in an earlier issue. Unfortunately I have misplaced the details and my dog, Wuvley (named by the afore mentioned Kathryn) has eaten my old issues. Sorry I can’t be a bit more precise there. I think your best bet is the VTX, because there is better compatibility.
  2. There is one VTX, the VTX 500.
  3. You will definitely need to buy a sub to Micronet/Prestel. This costs £20 per quarter or £70 per year, plus time charges. Most other boards are free to use.
  4. On Micronet there is a 1p per minute charge in the evenings, around 3p per minute during daytime and free between midnight and 8am. Some areas of Micronet cost extra, but not much. All this and the phone call charge, which is local rate.
  5. For the +2, yes. When the VTX is connected, the computer will crash. Press reset and the menu will appear, select either 128 or 48 mode and then you will need to load up VTX Editor, a software package available from Micronet Telesoftware. You will, of course, need a 48K Spectrum to get this, as the VTX can use its built in software on this machine. Lend a 48K, log-on, download the VTX Editor from the telesoftware section and then load it up on the +2, this will run the modem perfectly.
  6. You are given a Mailbox free as soon as you join Micronet.
  7. If you take out a year’s subscription to Micronet, you will get a VTX free. They can be found new for around £30. Second hand, try Micro-Mart, for around £15.

I hope that answers all your questions!

Anyway, have to wrap it up there, I can feel one of my heads coming on! See you next time in another bracket filled issue (((())))!!!!!! (Punctuation, I love it!)