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TOSEC Project => Database / Datfiles => Errors & Contributions => Topic started by: Mikerochip on May 01, 2019, 09:12:37 PM

Title: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: Mikerochip on May 01, 2019, 09:12:37 PM
Hi All.

I created a spreadsheet with some Atari ST magazine disks and such.

The ST Action disks in Tosec are all over the place.
There were only 67 issues of STA, and 58 cover disks.
(Tosec lists one of the disks as disk 99, etc)

This is the spreadsheet.
I put a link to most of the covers of the magazines, and any labels I found in the disk column.
The Scan Label and Scan Disk are my own disks I've scanned @ 950dpi.

The first issue with a disk was issue 17, and the second was 22.

Can I submit a list of changes for disks?
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: Maddog on May 01, 2019, 09:30:07 PM
By all means, submit any correction or other significant info you have. I will try to implement it ASAP. Thank you! :)
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: Mikerochip on May 02, 2019, 04:40:16 PM
By all means, submit any correction or other significant info you have. I will try to implement it ASAP. Thank you! :)

Excellent. OK, I've checked 46 of the 58 disk images, and will do the rest this evening.
I (only) own and have dumped 14 of the disks myself.

You're missing 3x disks, and I can give you 2x of those. They're marked in grey in my spreadsheet in column O
They all have copy protection. So, I've dumped them using KyroFlux Free on the Amiga.

The ones in green, I've made exact copies from, using my original disks, again using Kyroflux, mounting the CTRaw images and using FastCopy3 on the ST to copy those to a .ST image in hAtari.

You have loads of duplicate disks, all of which really should be removed.

They come from how people formatted blanks on the ST: If you use the built in OS, it formats a disk as 1 or 2 sides, and then with 9 sectors and 80 tracks. (Giving 720k disks)
But using other third party software, many people formatted their disks to 1 or 2 sides, with 10 sectors and 80 tracks (800k) or 82 (820k) or 84 (840k) tracks. Most programs gave the option of using 11 sectors and 86 tracks, but most drives couldn't operate that reliably, so, 720, 800, 820 and 840 are all common disk sizes. 720K (for DS/DD) disks are the official OS formatted size.

Many of the ST action disks, since they didn't come with a standard duplication program on the disk, directed people to use a standard floppy to back up on to.
Obviously, people did, but they used disks they had already formatted. So, lots of the [a] and [a2] [a3] disks have just extra blank space at the end.
And aren't really overdumps, because they're a dump of a copy, rather than an original. And the order that the files are copied on is different in some cases, so, the crc's don't match if you simply trim them (and the header on the disk will still say it has the wrong number of tracks/sectors/sides)

In my 14 disks, only 1 has 10 sectors: all others have the standard 9 sectors.

So, if you're agreeable, I'll give you a list of disks that are obviously just dumps of preformatted blanks, rather than dumps of games.
(This will get rid of all the [a]/[a2]/[a3] disks)
(One of your dumps is bad also. It needs to be replaced) Edit. Ok, found 3x more bad dumps.
I've verified where I can that the other disks match mine, or, at least are all playable.
(Actually, none match mine!)

I've uploaded all my dumps from original disks too, so you have those.

If you have a look at the google sheet you can see what I've come up with so far.
The list has links to 66 of the 67 covers, links to my own label and disk scans, and then, some I've found elsewhere.

I'm not 100% sure I'm right on the naming conventions though.
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: Mikerochip on May 02, 2019, 09:44:08 PM
OK, so, some extra info:

In 1990, Gollner publishing merged with Europress intereractive, and from issue 22, all the magazines were published by Europress under the publishing house title "Interactive Publishings Ltd." So, I've marked all bar the first disk "Interactive Publishings Ltd."
(You can see this on the fine print on all the magazines after Issue 21. I can link some from various places, if you want to see the actual pages)

I'm not really sure how to mark the names of what's on the disks. Should all the commerical game demo's be marked (Commerical Demo) or some such?
I've marked other games as either (PD) (Shareware) or (Donationware) as much as I can. I may have missed a few here and there.

I've gone through all 58 disks, and all 116 entries you have in your list, and I think, more than 70 of yours need to be removed.

Some of the issues had problems, and I've made an extra disk (marked with the disk number then a letter after it, eg Disk 53, and then I made Disk 53a) to fix the problem.
Some disks required you to provide your own blank disk, as the demo/game etc was compressed on the cover disk.
5 issues have compressed games, but one of the disks won't work in an emulator (or is damaged) and it won't write onto the blank.
I made blank uncompressed games for those issues.
2 issues had demos that required them to be moved into the Auto folder to automatically boot on the ST, otherwise they wouldn't work.
2 issues came with Auto Booting games, and required you to either boot with a blank disk, and then insert the original to play the non auto booting games, or wait until the desktop was visible on the ST, and insert the disk.
For those games I've copied the disk, and disabled the autobooting game.
So, 9x extra disks in total. (There should be 10, but like I said, one wouldn't install)

Here's the link for my own verified dumps, plus the 9x "made for your convenience" disks.

You'll notice there's 2x Kyroflux CTRaw dumps, which play fine with STeemSSE and hAtari, if the CAPS library is installed.
There's also a third disk, along with it's .st image.
Many of the earlier disks have an unreadable area at the end of the disk, on one side only. I've checked all mine, and only Disk 30 has this.
(I used to own more disks, but they were lost/destroyed over the years) And I remember quite a few of the earlier disks being unable to be copied)
I've included this CTRaw image if you want to examine it!

What's going to be the easiest way to give you all the new names?

Could you have a look at my spreadsheet, and see if you like the names as I've written them?

Do you want me to make a dat file for just these newly corrected disks (including my own dumps), or list out all 116 disks in your collection, with deletions, name changes, and reasons etc.
(You'll notice too, that all my dumps have the Drive A and Drive B titles edited by the STAction magazine to say something funny, or even just list the disk title. That's how you usually know it's a good dump, and not just a file copy)
(Some of the Tosec dumps have this, but some are obviously edits, since one lists disk 68 (There's only 58 disks) and one tells you to go into medium resolution to run a menu, where the real disk just boots into medium. The author/editor/creator of the new disk image obviously didn't know you could boot the ST into medium resolution automatically)

You're still missing Disk 18 and 33. And I have dumps of neither.

I also haven't dumped my Disk 14 yet (I just got it last week, and my disk drive is dirty! And needs to be cleaned)
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: Mikerochip on May 02, 2019, 11:34:04 PM
And Dat.
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: Maddog on May 03, 2019, 04:17:55 PM
That's a treasure trove of information, thank you for taking the time to do this!
At a quick glance, I will make 3 notes.

1) Generally, TOSEC doesn't drop files from the dats because they are [a], etc. as the aim of the project is to catalog all files found "in the wild". We only remove files if they have nothing to do with the dat (eg discovering a .txt file masquerading as .dsk, discovering discs belong to another system and other similar issues. We do realize that many users don't find that particularly useful, but someone has to catalog what's "out there", so you will know even if your downloaded dump is bad.
However, if you are able to definitely identify which image is closer to the standard, we can use this as the "Parent" and list all others as [a].

2) On the company name, we don't use Ltd. and the like. So in this specific case, company name would be (Interactive Publishing)
Quoting from TNC:
As a general rule, do not include extra company notations such as Ltd, PLC, Inc. unless they are absolutely necessary in the company name.

3) I had to remove your link with the files. We do not host here in TOSECDEV any files that may be copyrighted or links for them, even if the copyright is old or "nobody cares". We only share hashes and info about the files, then whoever wants to spread actual files may do so in other locations. There are many places more suited to that and TOSECDEV can't and won't do it here. We prefer to stay strictly on the squeaky clean legal side. This has allowed us to keep the site alive and receive no legal notices over the last 15 years or so and we wish to keep it this way. :)

With these said, you seem very knowledgeable about Atari ST. The computer definitely needs some extra love in our dats. At the time they definitely could use some modernizing, but noone currently active is particularly knowledgeable or familiar with ST. If you feel you are up to it, you can join the project as a regular member and take over the ST dats (or whatever part of them you want to). If that sounds interesting drop me a pm.
Thanks a lot for your contributions!!!  :)

EDIT: 4) Apparently Issue 22 is still Gollner Publishing. On Issue 23 it becomes Interactive Publishing and there's also a tiny article on page 06 mentioning the change.
Proof from these pdf:
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: Mikerochip on May 03, 2019, 06:48:22 PM

Ok, thanks. I'll amend my own dats to remove the ltd. And change issue 22 Disk 02.

Otherwise, I think I need to have more of a chat about the files, and how (ST) disks work.
Those disks in your collection are, as I said, just someone making a copy of most of the files from the original disk.
It's the same as copying files from a CD to a HDD on your PC, and them making a new CD. (But forgetting 1 or more files).
The new CD technically contains 99% of the original data, but, not in the same way, in the same order which, as it turns out, was critically important for much of the magazines early life.

If you're not going to remove them, then, I think you need to make it very clear that these disks had nothing to do with the originals.

Let me explain further.
They're not making a copy of the disk itself. So, to be fair, those disks that you have aren't actually [a]lternative versions of the original disks in question. They're all, at best, [h]acks. No other medium has a problem like this, unfortunately.

About 90 of your disks are missing at least one file (desktop.inf) from the original disk, which means they're all bad. (And marked as bad?? I'm not sure how you do things like this.)
But worse. All the original ST machines came with single sided drives. And as such, couldn't access any of the data *at all* on a double sided disk.
Nothing. Nada.
So, Rob Norton came up with a special format for ST disks, that most magazines used. (At least in the early days. Most eventually switched to DS/DD disks at some point in their life cycle)
They formatted, instead of alternating sides, as was the usual way, All 80 tracks of side 1, and then, extended that and formatted all 80 tracks of side two.
So, if you look inside these disk images, you'll see many many of the original (probably first half) of the ST Action collection has a folder called side2.
This was a special folder, and created in the above manner, so that people with single sided drives saw what was on side1, but got an error from side 2 if they tried to access this folder.
It allowed them to access at least 50% of the disk, without upgrading to a double sided drive. (Which is why you can see on all the labels, what's on the disk marked as on side 1 and side 2. This is why it's important)

More than 100 of your disks aren't formatted like this at all, so, they're 100% not a copy of the original disk.
Which is why I think the [a] [a1] etc should all be removed.
If you're going to keep a bad copy someone made badly, which is a sort of half approximation of the original, you should only keep one of these.
In addition, as I said earlier, the order that you copy files on makes a difference, so, everyone that copied on these files to a normal blank could have copied them in a different order.
(and likely did).
So, if a disk has 10 files, you could have (is it !10 kinds of permutations?) times single sided, double sided, 9, 10, 11 and then 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86 tracks.
So, for each disk that has 10 files, you could have 10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x21 kinds of "blank disk" approximations. So. 76,204,800 variations, for each disk.
And I truly believe it's pointless cataloguing all of these permutations, *especially* when they're not actual dumps of the original disks, just someone making up something close to the original.

The closest analogy I can think of is someone recording songs and putting them on CD and saying it should be catalogued because it contains almost the correct information.

Unfortunately, almost none of these disks were mastered, so, I put forth the case that they should be removed. Keep one bad version, to cut down on pointless duplication, and then replace them with the real ones when (if) they become available.

Most of them have the correct files for the games/programs listed, but, are missing at least 1 file (desktop.inf), or have a version that someone else hand created, and crucially, are not mastered to the Single Sided/double sided special Rob Norton format.

If you want to know a bit more about the desktop.inf, let me know. It's an optional file, but if present, controls how the windows on the desktop appear, the resolution it boots in, the names on the drives, and some other stuff.

In computing terms, the .st file format is closer to a .tar file than anything else. (Not really, but go with it for the moment!)
It has a special header telling how many sides the disk has, how many tracks and how many sectors used. After that, all the files are more or less tarred together.
Or rather, that's how it's being used here. In reality, it's got that header, and then just a list of data on tracks.
Almost none of the Tosec disks even vaguely resemble the original disks, at the track level, unfortunately.
One of the tracks contains the FAT table, and this is what Rob Norton modified. And then aligned the files to one side or the other.
So, I guess, it's closer to interleaved vs non-interleaved. (Which has no virtual, but some real world differences)

It took me a while to get to the point, but I got there eventually!

So, I guess, the big question is, are the collection of files on a disk (with one or more modified files) the same as the layout of the original disk + all files unmodified.
(But, they've been modified in a way that's invisible to most modern users)

Obviously, I think they're not!
But, you guys need to decide if you agree.
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: Mikerochip on May 03, 2019, 10:16:04 PM
Oh. Also. I can ask Dfrsilver (from The Softpress team) to convert my CTRaw images made using Kyruflux free into .ipf images for proper preservation too, if it's important.
So, you'll have a real exact copy of the disks, layout / copy protection etc intact and properly preserved)
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: NLS on May 04, 2019, 10:47:35 AM
Well he is not wrong.
If things are that bad and someone takes the task to re-arrange things essentially from scratch, I guess it makes sense to accept some sacrifices (if eliminating disks that are all bad dumps as sacrifice).

I mean I understand documenting every REAL (different) copy that existed. Not documenting every brain fart some ignorant ripper had.
In other words if I have let say 100 disks and for the first ten I experiment with ripping settings and have like 70 alternative bad rips of those 10 disks because of my tests, doesn't mean that those need to be datted and "saved forever". We need to keep a balance there.
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: Mikerochip on May 04, 2019, 11:10:53 AM
documenting every brain fart some ignorant ripper had.

It's not actually quite as bad as that. Because the early disks (up to disk 30 or so, from what I can see on the few I own/used to own) had tracks 79 and 80 on side 2 as unreadable, there was no way to make a proper track copy of the disks.

So, some good people copied off each individual file, and released them as just plain zip files. Since there was no way at the time to easily make dumps with copy protected tracks.
(This is why the disk images in Tosec exist at all!)

Later on, people wanted to use these zips with emulators, and couldn't easily, so they (obviously) just made a blank disk image, copied on the contents of the .zip, and then recreated the desktop.inf. (Sometimes they didn't)
So, the images were almost the same as the original, and the contents of the disks were again preserved.

This is how we got to where we are with these, if I had to guess on a sequence of events.
I can't be 100% sure that's what happened for each disk, but I definitely remember the files released as .zips, and then the advent of emulators (PacifiST etc) needing disk images.

There's a mixture of double sided, 9 sector, 10 sector, and then 80/82/84 track images in the list.
Best guess: The 9 sector 80 track are guys making official (as in from the OS) disk copies from originals, and also zips copied onto .st images.
The 10 sector 80/82/84 track disks are most probably guys copying directly from the originals to a pre-formatted blank disk they had created themselves, using non-os third party software to extend the official disk size to allow more data on the disk.
(I know I certainly did this, and everyone else I knew did it too. Disks were expensive!)
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: NLS on May 05, 2019, 12:33:31 AM
I understand what you say because I did it too.
(for Amiga and C64)

The (weird) thing is that, if someone did this in let say 1994, then probably it is a (tiny) piece of history within TOSEC's bounds. Even more if that thing was actually spread (even with a limited spread).
If it is something I did last year and me and a friend has, then probably should have never reached TOSEC.
It is a bit of a fine, hard to distinguish line if you ask me.

Anyway, I see the team proposed you take over the ST TOSEC part and I don't think you replied. So will you help?
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: Mikerochip on May 06, 2019, 08:13:56 PM
I see the team proposed you take over the ST TOSEC part and I don't think you replied. So will you help?

I was actually going to base my answer off the decision on this threads proposal.
If I join, I'll want to do the same to the other ST sections. Effectively, remove all the other usermade "overdumps", name them properly and if I can, replace them with correct dumps.

Either way, I'm going to continue doing this for myself, so, even if I don't join, I'll add some dats here periodically.

I've cleaned my drive, dumped ST Action Disk 14, and verified that the tosec dump matches mine, apart from the desktop.inf file, and also the size & layout of the disk.
The real disk is double sided, has 10 sectors per track, and interestingly, 81 tracks listed in the fat header. Interesting because, the ST usually uses 80 tracks, and both sides of track 81 are unreadable.
No data resides there, and I presume it's only function was to prevent people copying the disk.

That's all the STA disks I own for the moment, but I hope to buy more in the near future.
Until then, on to the next ST magazine!

OK, I've bought a few more from eBay. Inc. one of the two left that you're missing.
I'll ask dfrsilver to convert the raw dumps to .ipf files too.

Also, by the by, this was me:

On the English Amiga Board. I didn't think to come directly to you guys to make a correction, but I'd noticed the error a year or more before, and I came across the Amiga TOSEC Corrections thread.
Title: Re: Atari ST Magazine, ST Action corrections.
Post by: NLS on May 07, 2019, 01:39:34 PM
As I said I agree with your idea.
Although I would keep any "bad" version (and flag it as such - if not already flagged) UNTIL replaced by a better one. At least to keep this as a placeholder that somewhere is a disk that is not yet dumped properly.

But the team is to decide.