|★ APPLICATIONS ★ DISQUE ★ NIRVANA (c) GOLDMARK SYSTEMS|Amstrad Computer User) ★|
|Nirvana v1||Applications Disque|
Kenn Garroch casts his eye over a new disc management system from the boys at Goldmark.
Nirvana is rather an odd name for a disc management system, but I suppose they had to call it something and 'Disc Management System' is rather full. The facilities offered are very useful; indeed, if you have ever accidentally erased a file, or messed up a copy by inserting the wrong disc and forgetting to copy protect it, you may wonder how you ever managed without it.
At its simplest level, Nirvana provides facilities to copy, rename, erase, and change the file attributes of files.
It can also format and copy discs. In addition, it provides facilities to read the disc map and sectors editor aftd save a complete disc to tape. When files are saved to an Amstrad or CP/M disc, the data is not saved on consecutive sectors as this would cause the disc to become clogged up when files are erased - the space released may not be big enough to accommodate a new file. Instead, a map of free sectors is known to the directory and the saved files are spread over the sectors depending on where they are free. Reading back the file is simply a matter of tracing the sectors via the map and reading each in turn; erasing the file is just a matter of marking the necessary sectors as free. The map disc option of Nirvana shows the layout of each file on the disc, giving the track and sector numbers used to store the file. This can be displayed on the screen or sent to the printer. This latter option is useful when a file has somehow become corrupted and you need to trace where it is stored. Using the print-out and the sector editor, it is possible to read all or most of the file and possibly to restore it.
The sector editor allows you to read and write the disc at its lowest level. The contents of each sector are displayed in two parts; the lower 256 bytes and, on pressing f2, the upper 256 bvtes. The display is in two halves: the contents of the sector in hexadecimal numbers (16 rows of 16 numbers), and the contents in ASCII characters. Either of these can be edited and then saved to the disc, allowing almost any form of modification to be made. One problem with the editor is its lack of instructions. I could not find a way to exit from it apart from turning the Amstrad off - the CTRL+SHIFT+ESC is trapped by the program so that it does not work.
The big drawback with trying to use the sector editor to correct disc problems is that you need to know a reasonable amount about how the disc is set out. Unfortunately, the manual - at only eight pages - is very limited and is particularly lacking in information, although it does give a few examples on how files and filenames are stored. Even this is rather brief, but almost no information at all is given on many of the options. Some of these are admittedly quite simple, but it would have been nice to see more information on disc formats, recovering files, discs, etc.
NIRVANA The Ultimate Disc Management Suite
The tape backup functions take a whole disc of data and save it to the cassette port in around fifteen minutes. Other options allow selected files to be saved and restored with no user intervention. This facility could be used either to make backup copies of discs or to free disc space, by copying rarely used files and programs to tape and then re-loading them when they are needed.
Nirvana is a software package of the type that I would consider indispensable for anyone who uses discs a great deal. If you do not buy this one, you should surely have one that offers similar facilities.