BACK UP YOUR TROUBLES
FAST WILL HAVE to be quick off the mark to stem the recent flood of back-up devices for the Spectrum.
The latest of those, the Spec-Mate from AT & Y Computing will back-up a program to tape, microdrive, disc drive - Beta - or Wafadrive at the press of a button, generally irrespective of whatever fancy protection techniques have been used.
As Spec-Mate does not have to be connected to reload the backed-up program, the potential for misuse is high. Hopefully, purchasers will not abuse it, as while backing-up your own programs is a necessity, piracy should be, and with the new copyright laws is being, stamped out.
In terms of ease of use, Spec-Mate falls between Interface III and the Microdriver, the latter being the easiest. Once a program has loaded, a button on the interface is pressed and the program freezes. From there on you have to type blind, that is, apart from the border changing colour there is nothing on the screen to show which keys you have pressed.
Once frozen you have to press a key to denote how the program should be saved, to tape, disc, or to examine the screen. Software houses are getting wise to those sort of devices and sometimes put data on the screen. Examine allows you to remove the colour and reveal any data hidden there.
Spec-Mate needs some of the Spectrum's memory and uses the screen for storage. It allows you to specify which pan of the screen it uses which should overcome most protection problems.
Now the program can be saved, with or without a screen display, so that microdrive users can get two programs on one cartridge. You have to type in a filename blind, but once you get used to it the process is reasonably easy.
Spec-Mate is straightforward to use and has the advantage that if you use microdrives and want to change to discs at a later date you can still use it. The price, £39.95 inc seems to be average at the moment.
AT & Y Computing Ltd, 35 Villa Road, London SW9 7ND. Tel: 01-733 6175.