Contents of the P-POP.DOC file
The P-POP Program, Version 1.2 - August 6, 1991
If you need instructions on installing the P-POP program correctly, read the
following section called INSTALLING THE PROGRAM. But if you think the program
is already installed, here's how you run it:
Interactively - P-POP (at the DOS prompt)
In a batch file - P-POP /Fxxxxxxxx where xxxxxxxx is a picture
you want to have displayed
during execution of your
See the following section called COMMAND LINE SWITCHES for a detailed
explanation of the above instructions. If you try a quick start and things
don't happen the way you expect, you can come back and read the following text
to find out why.
The P-POP program lets you create and view colorful VGA pictures that include
backgrounds, shapes (circles, stars, stripes, rectangles, ellipses, triangles,
wedges, arcs, semicircles, etc.), text, and a number of non-visual effects
(beeps, pauses, etc.) The pictures you create are displayed in VGA graphics
mode. They can be copied, modified, or deleted using interactive menus that
simplify the process of creating and refining graphic creations. The P-POP
program has on-line help that can be viewed at any time by pressing the [F1]
key. This help feature and the layout of the menus enable you to use this
program easily without learning any complicated commands.
The P-POP program was created with kids in mind. All but the very youngest will
be able to create fancy colorful pictures and screen messages and announcements
with very little help.
To get you started, a number of sample pictures are included with this program.
If you want to customize these sample pictures, you can use the menus in the
program to modify them. Of course, you can also easily create your own
pictures from scratch.
Any compatible PC that has VGA graphics capability can use this program.
A math co-processor is not required.
This program is distributed as shareware (though not freeware). If you or
your family like this program and find that you use it, please send $10 to:
14013 Adkins Rd.
Laurel, Md. 20708
If you don't already have a copy of the program, and need for me to send
you one, please add $2.50 for the additional expenses (floppy, mailer, and
Even if you decide not to keep it yourself, I would appreciate it if you
would upload the entire package to bulletin boards in your area. Just
please be sure to include all the associated files.
A FEW BASICS
You will find that it is easier to learn to use the P-POP program by just
jumping in than it would be to read lengthy instructions. But keep the
following in mind:
Distances are always expressed as a percentage of screen width or height.
The bottom of the screen is 0. The top is 100. Similarly, the left hand side
of the screen is 0. The right side is 100. For example, to center a circle
(or other objects) on the screen, you will use an x value of 50 and a y value
Most objects can be created as single occurrences or with repetitions. When
you create an object as a single occurrence, you get a single object. But
suppose you want many identical objects duplicated on the screen in several
locations or orientations. The repetition factor allows you to define the
object once, then repeat it many times on the screen in a controlled fashion.
(This feature was used to make the stars in the sample American flag that comes
with this program.)
COMMAND LINE SWITCHES
There are two ways to run P-POP. You can use it as an interactive program to
create, modify, and view pictures. Alternatively, if you have made pictures
that you would like to have displayed during execution of batch files, you can
start P-POP in a batch file with the picture name as a parameter, and it will
display the picture and then wait for a key press. You can use this latter
feature in all sorts of imaginative ways to add pizzazz to your batch files.
Last, there is a switch that forces P-POP to use the BIOS to display menus
on the screen instead of modifying video memory directly. (If you want to
know more about this, see the following section called
OVERCOMING DISPLAY PROBLEMS). Use of this switch is unnecessary unless you are
having problems with menu displays, so you probably don't need to worry about
using this switch.
The two switches that you can use with P-POP are:
/B forces use of BIOS
/Fxxxxxxxx displays picture xxxxxxxx immediately without bringing up
any menus. This option lets you use P-POP from batch files.
The two switches are mutually exclusive. If you put both on the command line,
only the /F switch will take effect. (When you show a picture immediately, the
/B switch is not needed, because no menus are used.)
Switches must be separated from the word P-POP by at least one space.
If you use the /F switch, no space can come between it and the file to be
Examples: P-POP Starts interactive processing
(You should try it this way first.)
P-POP /Fliberty Displays the picture called
P-POP /B Forces BIOS use.
If you use P-POP in a batch file, be sure to change to the POP directory in
the batch file before running the P-POP program so that it will be able to
find all the files it needs.
SUBMISSION OF PICTURES
I intend to distribute a new set of free sample programs in the future, and
will probably do so periodically. If you create a picture that you think is
particularly interesting and creative, you can submit it to me for inclusion in
the next release. I can't guarantee that all submissions will be included, but
since I need good pictures, good ones are likely to be used. I can't pay you
for your submissions, and the final decision on inclusion will have to be mine,
but if I use your picture, I will credit you by name (unless you request
otherwise) in a DOC file that will accompany the pictures.
INSTALLING THE PROGRAM
P-POP can be run from a floppy disk. Graphics will appear on your screen
much more quickly, however, if you run from a hard disk. Installation is
the old-fashioned kind.
(a) You create a directory ( Example: MD\POP )
(b) You copy all the files to the directory.
(c) You 'change' to the directory. ( Example: CD\POP )
NOTE: It is essential that you change to the directory and do not
rely on a PATH statement because the P-POP program needs access to
files that must be on the current directory.
(d) You type P-POP, and the program begins.
The program is distributed with 4 kinds of files:
(1) The program itself, called P-POP.EXE
(2) The help file, called P-POP.HLP
(3) Font files, which have a .FON extension (There are 6 of them.)
(4) This DOC file.
(There are also some sample pictures, which are files that end with .POP)
If you don't have all these file types, you don't have the whole package, and
use of some features will produce error windows. Contact me to get the complete
package. You can write to me at the address above or reach me on Prodigy on
THE PREVIEW GRID
When creating or modifying a picture, you can see what it looks like even if
it is not yet completed at any time by selecting the Preview option. The
picture is shown on the screen with an overlay grid that can be used to
determine coordinate values on the screen, thereby simplifying the placement
of objects where you want them. If you do not need the grid or want to see
your picture previewed without the overlay grid, press [F2] and the grid will
not be drawn. You can reinstate the grid at any time by pressing [F2] again.
OVERCOMING DISPLAY PROBLEMS
By default, the P-POP program does direct video memory updates to do menu
processing. This brings the menus up in a flash. Some computer configurations,
however, do not allow direct video memory manipulation. For that reason,
the P-POP program has an option that allows you to force P-POP to use BIOS calls
for display. If you experience any display problems, use this option
by starting the program with the command P-POP /B (normally, the
program is started by just typing P-POP).
Using the BIOS will make screen updates noticeably slower, but assures
compatibility with the widest range of computers and configurations.
PRINTING YOUR CREATIONS
If you have a color printer and graphics screen-grabbing and printing
software, the pictures you make can be reproduced on paper.
MAKING SLIDE SHOWS
You can use the P-POP program to make a slide show. You first make the
pictures that you want to show. Then create a batch file that uses the /F
switch to show each picture in turn. While showing the 'slides', you would
press a key whenever you were ready to show the next picture. If you had
four pictures in your slide show named BEACH, MOUNTAIN, SWAMP, and DESERT,
the batch file would look like this:
CONTACTING THE AUTHOR
I welcome feedback. I like to hear about problems, suggestions, and
applications you have found for the P-POP program. You can write to me at the
address above or reach me on Prodigy on ID FDCG42A.
TEACHING WITH THE P-POP PROGRAM
Although kids find it fun, the P-POP program can be used in a structured
approach to impart several useful concepts. You can expect kids to become
(1) Intuitive use of fractions. Placement of objects at the location on the
screen that you want it becomes second nature as the program is used.
(2) A procedural and structured approach to reasoning. Although it is not
immediately evident, use of the P-POP program is a form of 'programming'.
You say what objects you want to see, where they are placed, how they
are rotated, and what the messages say. But what if something isn't
quite right? What if objects are displayed in the wrong order or are
too small or too big? Well, you inspect your 'instructions' and fix the
problem. This is essentially a 'debugging' process. You will find that
your kids (and adults, too) become very adept at analyzing what went
wrong, and then figuring out how to get the results they originally
(3) Intuitive use of angles and the relationships of circles, pie slices,
and arcs. Even the 'square corner' objects such as rectangles, stripes,
octagons, etc. can be rotated.