|★ APPLICATIONS ★ DEPLOMBAGE ★ BONZO DOO DAH|Amstrad Action) ★|
|Bonzo Doo Dah||Applications Deplombage|
Nemesis is meddling with disks again -Pat McDonald tries its new utilities
"Roll up, ladies and gentlemen! For your entertainment, Bonzo Doo Dah will balance a stick of rhubarb on his nose while juggling with burning tabloids!"
I'm sorry about that, but this program has tickled my funnybone.
Bonzo Doo Dah is a disk utility. Its primary purpose is to give you more room on each disk - 203k, no less, which is a sizeable chunk over the standard 178k. It will also allow you to discover (sorry!) just what is on it. and change it to what you want, such as highscore tables and programmers" credits. This; is known as hacking disks.
When run, the program presents a menu. Every word from now on is true. If it sounds rather strange, it is because it is strange.
Bigbonzy is the first option on the menu. From it, you can format disks in any standard format - IBM, Data, System and Vendor and also in the new. larger format, called Bigbonzo. Once this has been set up, a file of the same name is written to the disk. To use the disk, just run this file first, and all should be well. However, I am not sure that it caters for CPM; the manual has nothing to say. So if want to use CPM as well, be wary of trying to use Bigbonzo format.
(In fact Bigbonzy is the same, plus a few frills, as Richard Monteiro's program Fastform and its "BigK" format published on AA's Christmas cassette.)
There is also a rather effective disk clone option. I have little to say. since Nemesis claims this is a byproduct and not a design intent the idea was to be able to copy the Bigbonzo format only. The fact that it can also copy various commercial games is a twist of fate. Personally I think people will have a field day ripping off disk software, then get bored of having 250 different games to play.
Bonzedit is the second choice on the main menu. From here you can interrogate standard, Bigbonzo and vanous (though not all) types of commercially protected disks. As a rule of thumb, the older the disk, the more chance Bonzo Doo Dah has of copmg with it.
Good editing tools
The editing functions are really very good. First off you can get a map of the disk, showing which tracks and sectors are in use. This and many of the functions can be put out to a printer.
Next you can get a file-location map. This is a list of the files on the disk, and each filename has after it a series of double numbers, like this: 03/41. The first is a track number, and refers to which of the 40 tracks or concentric nngs the data is stored on. The second is the sector number, and this indicates where on the track the data block is stored. So even if a program has been split into many pieces and scattered all over the disk - you would be very confused if you just studied sectors in sequence - you can use this feature and know just where the different blocks of the program have been placed
There is also a function to alter the contents of the directory of the disk. This may sound very dangerous, but it need not be with a little care. If you have accidentally erased a file, you can recover it again with this program if you have not written anything else on top of it. You can also set your programs to "System"; they will be invisible to anyone doing a standard "cat" or "dir" of a disk. These functions are well implemented and the approach is thai you can make any correction or deletion you want to on the screen: the program will not change anything on the disk until you tell it to.
The last editing option is to search the disk. You type in the string you want to search for - up to 128 bytes long, in Ascii or Hex. If the machine finds that particular sequence on the disk, it gives you the option of going to it under the Track and Sector editor, or to ignore it and search on. You can also jump to Bigbonzy or to the copying routine.
Bonzcopy is a copying program, rather like Filecopy on CPM 2.2. From a list of files you select the ones you want to copy, up to ten at one time. It can handle the maximum standard size of file under Amsdos. It will copy programs onto the Bigbonzo format.
On the rear of the disk is an example of a Bigbonzo-format disk, including some very pretty pictures and a free adventure game. Some of the wit in the graphics is pretty sharp I especially liked the Amiga lookalike! (Hasn't someone done that before?) Alluding to earlier Nemesis titles, these are labelled "Meddler diversions", and needless to say, they are.
The program's presentation is flawed only by the manual: one piece of paper typed on both sides. It contains everything relevant to the program, and if you know what you are about I doubt if you'll look at it much. Most of the program is self-explanatory - to the informed.
If you want to explore deeper into disk software, you will need a good piece of kit to help you. As commercial disk editors go, this is the best I've seen in a long while. It can't do everything, and will no doubt be superseded someday, but for its user-friendly approach, its sensible price, and its humour, I recommend it.