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MenuInfo by Dirk Hagedorn

Review by Scott Tirrell


There are plenty of clocks out there for TOS computers, right? I'd agree with that statement but, for some reason, many of those clocks seem to either be resolution-dependant or have some really funky features. One feature of many clocks is the 24-hour European format which I could learn to live with, I suppose, but, like with the Metric system, am just to lazy to et used to. So, in search of the perfect clock accessory for my TOSBox, I wound up grabbing MenuInfo from the UMich archive.

First of all, a nice surprise is that the documentation for MenuInfo is both in German and in English. In fact, after unarchiving the program, it was ready-to-roll in English. A very nice feature indeed. The author apologizes for his rough English but the documentation is clearly written and comprehensive. In no time, you'll have MenuInfo set up as either a program or an accessory on your system.

I set up MenuInfo as an accessory since I am running a plain single-tasking version of 2.06 under TOSBox. I have recently found out that Geneva's demo works fine under TOSBox so I may not be single-tasking for long, but that's an entirely different story. For now, though, it is good to know that MenuInfo will run on either multitasking or single tasking systems. MenuInfo is even VA_START aware, considerate of screen savers like Before Dawn, supports the Clipboard, can optionally be run in a window, and has support for virtual resolutions. It has a very impressive list of features and it certainly seems to be a fine example of modern GEM programming.

MenuInfo is more than simply a menubar clock which, essentially, is what I really wanted. MenuInfo also offers LCDs for the Caps Locks key and the OFSL (huh?) keys in the upper left hand corner of the screen. MenuInfo even offers an alarm. MenuInfo also offers an automatic window topper in it like in X-Windows and a screen saver! Download it for the clock, keep it and praise it for all of the bells and whistles.

By simply clicking on the two LCD buttons in the upper left corner of the screen, a configuration menu will pop up for MenuInfo allowing the user to customize every detail of this nifty little program. Don't worry, if the LCDs are turned off, the telltale Atari hand pointer will show up still allowing access to the options of MenuInfo. Just click to the left of the Desk menu and you'll get a dialog box chock full o' options.

A few other niceties of MenuInfo allow a user to refresh the screen with a key-click combination. Very handy for the occasional garbage you get on screen. MenuInfo also allows complete customization of the date format including 24 or 12 hour formats, small or large fonts, and PM/AM display. You say that MenuInfo sounds intriguing but that you already are using a program that displays information in the top right corner of the GEM desktop? Don't worry; just change the Offset setting in MenuInfo to the number of characters you'd like to push it to the left. MenuInfo has settings to satisfy the most picky of users. To be honest, MenuInfo might have settings that are a little overkill. Want to show the TOS version you're running in the upper right corner? No problem. No Magix version? No problem. The largest memoryblock? ST or TT? Tons and tons of options. You can't really fault the program for being too customizable, though. It can be a lot of thing to a lot of people. The only minor quibble that I can manufacture up against MenuInfo is that setting the format of your clock can be a little daunting with so many switches. But, if you simply read the ST Guide file that comes with MenuInfo (or call it up when you need help) you'll be okay.

MenuInfo isn't an earth-shattering program and it won't change the way you work with your ST. It will, though, offer some functionality to your computer with a small overhead and allow you to customize it to your heart's content. It should run on pretty much any ST according to the author (it does run under TOSBox) and will take up about 45K of memory. The only real sticky requirement is a resolution of at least 640 width to see all of the configuration menu. This seems a strange criteria considering all of the other compatibilities of the program. Still, though, MenuInfo is a great program. There is no reason why you shouldn't download this program and send the author a postcard or e-mail. He deserves it!


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