PART 8: BACKGROUNDER
Getting NeoDesk 4 to work with both hands
Even when Geneva is not running, NeoDesk 4 has an amazing ability to perform background file operations. Files can be copied or moved while you do other operations at the desktop -- creating Groups, setting up NPI files, formatting floppy disks, and so on. If you are copying or moving files from one folder to another and begin another copying or moving operation, NeoDesk 4 will add that operation to its queue and perform it when the first operation is done. (NeoDesk 4 cannot perform more than one file operation at a time, even under Geneva.)
Floppy formatting is a special case. Not only can you do file operations in the background while formatting a floppy; you can format a floppy disk AND do file operations while doing anything else at the desktop. This facile manipulation of the generally uncooperative floppy-disk controller is one of Gribnif's minor triumphs in NeoDesk 4, and I know few Atarians or PC users who are not amazed when they see NeoDesk 4's background formatting in action.
Geneva adds the muscle
But NeoDesk 4's ability to place such tasks in the background is most useful under Geneva. Background file operations are particularly handy during telecommunications sessions, when you can move downloaded files to separate folders, for example, and they are just as useful at many other times. NeoDesk 4 and its partner, Geneva, will let you create archives with STZIP or the superb LHarc-Shell while formatting floppy disks to place those archives on -- and while doing any other tasks as well. In my own systems, I regularly download files from GEnie using a background telecommunications program while performing file-copying operations and writing in Calligrapher or Atari Works. Because NeoDesk 4 provides a user-adjustable control over the amount of processor time given over to file operations, you can fine-tune the background response of NeoDesk for your own setup. The slowest (leftmost) setting of the background adjustment frees up the CPU for other tasks with minimal intrusion even on an 8MHz ST; on my 48MHz TT, it exacts no apparent toll, even when the TT is formatting a floppy at the same time. (I generally set the adjustment at the second button, which seems to be a good compromise between background speed and foreground operations on both my 16MHz ST and on my TT.)