Chicago TI 99
Faire 2002

Report on the 2002 Chicago TI Faire
By Charles Good

The 20th annual Chicago TI faire is history. The highlights of this year's event included new software for the Geneve and a visit from European TIers. The Chicago faire is the only TI show left in North America. I was told that the Chicago User Group will "definitely" have a TI Faire in 2003. I wasn't able to attend all the seminars, so please forgive any omissions.

Tony Kneer seminar:
Tony demonstrated the new Geneve boot eprom v1.0 combined with the new MDOS v6.5 and how to set it up to boot the Geneve from different devices. When you turn on the Geneve there is no swan. If you hold the space bar you get a menu. Press 1 and boot from ramdisk. Press 2 and boot from SCSI. 3 boots from HFDC. Use menu item 4 of you have a a second HFDC drive. This option boots system/sys off of a floppy in DSK2 and activates the HFDC. Use this option if your DSK1 directory is corrupted. 5 boots from floppy DSK1. You can boot from any combination of 3 of these choices. New to this eprom is ability to boot from SCSI. SCSI boot is most reliable because it does a CRC check. Need System/Sys and boot scsi file in root directory. #5 lets you boot from a floppy that is NOT attached to HFDC, so you need separate floppy controller.

If you don't hold the space bar when you boot the eprom will try to boot from items on the built in menu in order (ramdisk, then scsi, etc).

There are two types of scsi cards, original wht unmodified cards and new modified or German cards. These are accessed by MDOS 6.5 differently. Use the new CYA that comes with MDOS 6.5 to set up MDOS and setup your autoexec file. MDOS 6.5 is for newer scsi cards. CYA now has option for DMA scsi support. Modify MDOS one way for old scsi cards and another way for the newer cards.

To boot from ramdisk just put system/sys on ramdisk and it should boot. if you boot from ramdisk system looks for autoexec on dsk6. Use cyc to make ramdisk dsk6 and things work ok.

One version of the boot eprom for genmod and one for Geneve without genmod. You use the same MDOS 6.5, modified by CYA for all Geneves. The cost is of the eprom from Tony is $5.

Bob Carmany talked about his collection of eproms for sale. A list is available. Most of these have "improvements".

A large amount of stuff was offered for sale. One individual had two Geneve systems, each with 2 hard drives, for $150 each.

Norm Rokke is using PC99 to create a new battle ship type of game. He has a program to place the ships on the grid. He can also create and save/reload puzzle data. The as yet incomplete program is named Battleship Solitaire. You put ship fragments on a grid. The computer can partially solve a given puzzle for you. The product will probably be done by end of year and will be uploaded with puzzle files to the WHT site.

Wolfgang Bertsch wearing his neat TI Treff t-shirt demonstrated the latest, unreleased, version of the Trillionair game. This is a trivia game with multiple choice questions. You can create your own questions or use data files of previously created questions and answers. One interesting set of questions was about the TI. The game includes an editor that lets you add your own questions and a hint key that shows how many people have previously selected any particular answer.

What is going on in Europe:
According to Barry Harmsen, with an 80 column card the TI can read from PC CD (text and pictures) and move them to TI. M. Becker is making an 80 column card that will be demonstrated within weeks. He has started production development of the IDE card that was demonstrated at Chicago last year. Fred Kaal has developed a new TI emulator for the purpose of software development. It will be made available as freeware. There are several European language Yahoo egroups. Oliver Arnold has released a new 80 column disk mananager for scsi with recursive capabilities. TI-PC v2.20 by Paulo Bergasi is now available on the wht site and at It will archive and dearchive TI software, read and format TI disks, send to and from PC99. It does all of this on a PC.

Later at his table Wolfgang Bertsch demonstrated his program to read PC cd's with a TI. He showed how to transfer text and picture files from a PC cd to the hard drive of a TI. For some reason he could read his own European cd's but not the CYC cd.

You might call the next seminar "How did we ever manage to miss this one?" Ben Yates demos from his sample game disk which he was giving away. The disk contains compiled Extended Basic games based on a compiler called X-COM that Ben purchased in 1988. He read about the compiler in the June 1988 issue of Computer Shopper, sent Douglas Martin $50, and received his compiler in the mail. I was very impressed. What ever happened to this person and how can others of us obtain his very neat compiler?

Here is what Computer Shopper said:

"There is a new compiler on the market. One of the laments of the TI programmer for some time is that BASIC and Extended BASIC on the 99/4a is not very fast. BASIC on other machines has the advantage of being "compiled" enhancing the execution speed of the code. The MSDOS and other machine types have several packages that take the native BASIC code and convert it to machine code thus markedly increasing the performance of the software. There have ben a few attempts previously to accomplish this on the TI, all with varying success. Now there is another for your consideration. Douglas Martin of "DKM Enterprises" (P.O. Box 501046, Indianapolis IN 46350-1046) sent along his XCOM compiler package. The software comes on a copy protected disk with a 10 page manual. System requirements include a Mini-memory module (to load and execute the compiled programs), 32k, memory expansion and at least one disk drive....... Compiled programs are then loaded from Option 1 of the Mini Memory module. There are some limitations to the compiler as described in the manual provided. The BREAK, TRACE, UNTRACE, AND UNBREAK statements are not supported. Some of the other statements calling for arguments may have to be modified as well. But, in general, the package appears to be perhaps the best of this genre to come along. .... Why not drop a line to DKM for further details. Be a pal, and send along a SASE if you can as well. The price for the software is $49.95."

Unlike other TI99/4A BASIC compilers, you usually don't have to make any changes in your original BASIC program prior to compiling and the compiler compiles everything, not just a subset of BASIC commands. Compiled programs have a longer load time but run much faster. Norm's disk includes the compiler's run time files but not the compiler itself.

Norm includes on his disk the games he wrote for a retro computing new game contest. This was a 1K size limit multi computer (mostly Commodore and Spectrum) program contest. Alien Attack (based on Hidden Missle) takes 1018 bytes in assembly. It won 29th out of 62. Source code is included. The Hit and Missile game (a striped down version of Alien attack) is a bit larger.

Also on Norm's disk is a demo of Gravity Tiles in XB and compiled version, and a version of Startrek with speech called Super Star Trek. This is like TI's disk game with added graphics and some assembly code which makes it run fast.

Mike Wright PC99 and the CYC.

Mike showed a Video Chess French cartridge that modifies powerup screen. "Texas Instruments Ordinateur Falilial" There is provision in GPL for cartridges to change the powerup screen title screen.

CYC cd. Updates are available for $5 to those who already own an earlier version of the CYC. Mike demonstrated an unreleased utility that can index all pdf and txt files on the CYC and put them into an html file so that you can read the CYC using browser software such as Netscape. You can use the table of contents of any document on the CYC to go directly to that page.

The Corcomp TI to IBM module doesn't work on PC99 or a real TI without a Corcomp fdc. Mike figured out how to get PC09 to load lower case char set properly like a Corcomp fdc and make this module display properly.

Using PC99's as yet unreleased "disk Utilities" one can open a PC99 disk file in any directory, display the directory of that disk, select any runable file and run it automatically on a PC. Disk Utilities will be automatically copy the selected disk to PC99's dsk1. The correct module will then be configured into pc99, pc99 starts, is automatically pressed to go past title screen, 2 is pressed to select module, the file name is typed into the module, and is pressed to run the file. A future goal is to allow Disk Utilities DU to send any selected TI file on a PC99 disk back to a real TI disk via a serial cable.

The 32 bit Windows version of PC99 is still too incomplete to be released.

After the Fare attendees retired to a nearby restaurant for supper. There Hal Shanafield announced that this year's winner of the John Birdwell Award is Bill Gaskill, a TI programmer journalist and historian.