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Amstrad PCW 16 - Software Issues

Calculator IssuesDiary/Address Book Issues
Printer IssuesRestoring System
Spreadsheet Issues


Calculator Issues

How can I clear the calculator memory except by storing zero in it

You can't - that's EXACTLY the suggested method to clear the calculator memory. This method of operation is the same as that used on many models of Casio calculator.

Is the calculator example on page 40 of the manual correct?

Oops, no, the correct numeric answer is 58.75 - at least the calculator gets the right result even if the book is wrong!

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Printer Issues

How do I select "No printer" if I don't have a printer available?

You cannot, the WP (and to a lesser extent the SS) rely on a printer being chosen so the right set of "typographic font files" are copied into the Cabinet. The WP simply cannot operate without a set of typo fonts available. However, if you don't have a printer at the moment, it doesn't matter which printer on the list you choose. Even if you make the wrong choice and choose a printer that has 300dpi resolution when you later come to print on a 360 dpi printer or vice versa - as long as you use Desktop/Setup/Setup printer to tell the system which printer you are using before finally printing the files they will be adjusted to the new font resolution.

Printing seems very slow - is there any way to speed it up?

The way the PcW works is that it effectively draws a complete image of the page to be printed inside it's own memory and then sends this to the printer as a pattern of on/off dots in "graphics" mode - it does it this way rather than using the fonts within a printer so that it can do all the different point sizes, bold, italic, underline styles that it offers. These would not be available if it used the printers "text" mode. Unfortunately this process is very complicated and time consuming and there isn't a lot that can be done to increase the speed of printing. Not that it helps much, but the situation is very similar for people printing TrueType documents from Windows on a PC.

A disc that came with my printer mentions 'Windows', how do I use this disk on the PcW16?

You can't - that disc is inserted by the printer manufacturer in all the printers they produce and is intended for use by customers who buy the printer for use with an IBM compatible PC running Microsoft's Windows operating system. It has no relevance for the PcW16 which uses an entirely different type of font to those that may be included on that disc.

However, although that disc is of no use for the PcW16, don't lose it! If you later upgrade to using an IBM PC compatible with Microsoft Windows then you will definitely need that disc.

Olivetti JP170 Colour

This combination will work with a black cartridge, using the HP 500 drivers built into the Amstrad, but NOT with a colour cartridge....ever.

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Spreadsheet Issues

I keep seeing "####" in the spreadsheet in place of some of my numeric entries. What's happening?

This is a feature of the spreadsheet (similar to Excel in Windows). Instead of only showing part of a number that won't fit within the current width of a column it will show # characters. It does this to prevent misleading you (if you saw 1234 as the company profit when it should really show 123456, but that wouldn't fit, you probably wouldn't be too amused!).

If the column's width is increased then the true result will be seen. It may also help to reduce the number of digits displayed by applying/editing formats. A common place where '#' characters are seen is in the rightmost column of the display - often this is only showing half a column so the width is severely reduced. Once you scroll sideways so that the complete columns comes into view the '#'s should be replaced by the proper numbers.

In the spreadsheet, how can I repeat a formula across a row of several cells or down a column of several cells?

Put the cell cursor on the cell to be repeated and either drag out a single line or single column selection area then use the Edit/Fill across or Edit/Fill down menu commands. These will adjust any coordinate references within the copied cells to be relative to the position from which the original cell was copied.

How can I put a dividing line on a spreadsheet printout?

This can only be done by putting a text string in a row of it's own built up of underline, hyphen or equal characters - there is no dedicated line drawing facility.

How do I set a print area in the spreadsheet?

Drag the mouse (or use Shift+cursor keys) to select the area that you want to print and then use Spreadsheet/Set Print Area to tell the system that only that area should be used in printouts. Once a print area is set if you use "set print area" again but with only a single cell selected (or the entire sheet) then the print area will be set back to print as much of the spreadsheet as it possibly can fit on a page starting from the current cursor position when the print operation is started.

Do I have to wait for the spreadsheet screen to redraw every time I make an entry?

No, by default the spreadsheet has Auto recalculation switched on so that each time you make an entry it recalculates and redisplays all cells but as a sheet grows large the delay involved each time can become tiresome. To overcome this go to the Options menu and click on Auto-Recalculate to switch the feature off (the tick will disappear). When auto-recalc is switched off the sheet is not recalculated for each entry but this does mean that you can get cells that are `out of date'. In this case you can force a recalculation at any time to bring the display up to date by selecting Recalculate Now from the Spreadsheet menu. If you switch auto recalc back on then that will also perform a recalculation at that moment as well.

Can you lock a row and column in the spreadsheet containing titles so that they do not move while the rest of the sheet is scrolled?

Not at present but this feature is definitely something that will be added to a wish list for a future version should we choose to develop the software further.

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Restoring the O/S on an Amstrad PCW16

NB : Amstrad have a new version of the OS for the PcW 16. This is version 1.08 and is available from Amstrad customer care. It fixes the various "locking up" problems that have been reporting.

To restore the system, do the following -

From the DeskTop select SETUP, and from that menu chose SET SYSTEM OPTIONS. Click on UPGRADE OPERATING SYSTEM, insert the RECOVERY DISK into the disk drive, when instructed to and select OK

When the machine asks you whether you are sure that you want to install the operating system from disk, click on YES. You will then be prompted to back up all of your saved files by using the BACKUP CABINET TO DISK option in File Manager, if you are sure that you have everything you want to save on disks then click on OK. You will then be asked to confirm again that you are sure that you want to do this operation, so then click on YES.

The screen will then go black and it will erase and restore the operating system on to your PCW16, this will take a few minutes, so don’t worry if nothing happens immediately.

When it has finished the screen will go grey again and it will give you a message that it is Copying files from Disk to Cabinet You will then be asked to enter some system information, such as Date, Time, Name, Address etc. The machine will then prompt you to select the printer you are using from a list, it will then copy the fonts required from the disk to your machine.

You will be asked then to SET STARTUP OPTIONS, select the one you require and then select OK. You will then be returned back to the DeskTop, you can then remove the RECOVERY DISK, and use your machine as you did before, it will be back to it’s original state.

Machine Will not Restore From Disk

If the machine will not restore from the Rescue Disk, but when the machine starts up you still get the memory check, then it is normally a case of a faulty Rescue Disk.

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Diary/Address Book Issues

How can I save a copy of my address book or diary appointments to a floppy disk?

If you are not confident in the use of the file manager then just use Backup Cabinet to Disc to copy all your files to a blank floppy disc - included in these will be the address book and diary. Later use Restore Cabinet from Disc to read them back again if you need to return to the saved copies for some reason.

If you are more confident about using the file manager then you can copy the address book and diary appointments individually without having to use a completely blank disc or wait for the entire contents of the cabinet to be backed up.

The address book and diary are just held in two normal files in the cabinet. You don't normally see them because instead of being saved in Folders 01..16, they are stored in a special folder within the cabinet called the system folder.

To gain access to the system folder click on the View menu and then select the Show Cabinet System Folder option. (A quick way to do this is to click on the white on black word `cabinet' that appears above the listing of files). Once the system folder is showing you will see a whole host of files including all the different fonts that the system uses, it's help files and so on. If you look down this list you should see files called Address Book and Diary Appointments, these are the two files that you need to copy to a floppy disk. Click each name with the mouse so that it is highlighted and then press the Blue key to copy them. When asked for a destination pick any folder on a floppy disc. This will have made secure copies of those files.

Later, to restore the disc copies. Start by viewing the disk contents ([Ctrl]+L) then make sure the cabinet system folder is visible (by the View menu entry). Select the files saved on the disk and press Blue to copy them. For the destination select cabinet folder System. You may be asked if you want to over-write existing copies. Remember that if you do this any new entries made since you copied the files to disc will be lost but assuming this is what you want go ahead and press [OK].

How can I enter an appointment in the diary without setting a time?

As soon as you have entered the message ('Cliff's birthday' or whatever) just press the green / key instead of pressing [Return] for 'More'.

How can I print from the address book?

The address book program does not have a print facility built in but that's because the wordprocessor can be used to print address book entries and doing it this way means you have total control over which entries are printed, how they are laid out and which fonts and styles are used.

Just use Insert Mail-Merge Code on the Insert menu to put codes into a document. You can choose from any of the fields that appear in the address book.

When you come to print a document that has mail-merge codes the wordprocessor detects the special {xxx} codes and puts up a dialog that allows you to select which entries in your address book will be used during printing.

How can I get from field to field in the address book while editing an entry?

Well you can use the [Return] key after entering each field (name, address, tel, etc.) to move to the next one but more generally you can use the [Tab] key to go from one field to the next and [Shift]+[Tab] to go back to previous fields. This isn't just limited to the address book. You can use [Tab] and [Shift]+[Tab] to move from item to item in most dialogs within the PcW16 software. You will normally find that pressing the [Space] bar has the same effect as clicking the mouse on a selected item. In fact the whole PcW16 software has been designed so that it can still be operated if you don't have or choose not to use a mouse.

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