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The Menu From Mars! A nifty Menu Program that works.
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The Menu From Mars! A nifty Menu Program that works.
File Name File Size Zip Size Zip Type
MFM.DAT 137 97 deflated
MFM.DOC 37279 11848 deflated
MFM.EXE 160469 73822 deflated
MFMCNVT.EXE 37985 27721 deflated
PROGRAMS.DAT 56 48 deflated
WHATS.NEW 2121 855 deflated

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Contents of the MFM.DOC file



Version 1.1


Tony Martin

(C)opyright 1988 by Tony Martin

12 July 1988
Tony Martin
7623 Matera Street, #104
Falls Church, VA 22043


1. INTRODUCTION...............................................2

2. SOME NOTES ABOUT THE MENU FROM MARS........................2

3. REQUIREMENTS OF THE MFM....................................2

4. GETTING STARTED............................................3

5. READY TO RUN...............................................4

6. A FEW NOTES ABOUT THE PROGRAM..............................4
6.1. DEFAULT RESPONSES.....................................4
6.2. ENTER and ESCape......................................4
6.3. MENU COLORS...........................................4

7. COMMANDS...................................................5
7.1. # - RUNNING AN APPLICATION............................5
7.3. A - ADD AN APPLICATION................................5
7.4. C - CONFIGURING THE MENU..............................7
7.4.1. THE MENU TITLE LINE............................7
7.4.2. ERROR TONES....................................7
7.4.3. THE MENU COLORS................................8 A NOTE ON COLOR CHOICES...............9
7.4.3. SCREEN BLANKER DELAY...........................9
7.4.4. OTHER OPTIONS..................................9 EXPLODING WINDOWS.....................9 EXPLODING MENU.......................10 SORTED APPLICATIONS..................10 MENU MAKES NOISE.....................10 SCREEN BLANKER.......................10
7.4.5. SAVE CONFIGURATION............................11
7.5. D - DOS COMMANDS.....................................11
7.6. E - ERASE AN APPLICATION.............................11
7.7. H - HELP.............................................11
7.8. J - JUMP TO DOS......................................12
7.9. M - MODIFY AN APPLICATION............................12
7.10. Q - QUIT............................................12
7.11. V - VERSION.........................................13

8. FINAL NOTES...............................................13

9. APPENDICES................................................14
9.1. Appendix A - File Formats............................14
9.2. Appendix B - Menu From Mars Command List.............15


Welcome to the Menu From Mars.

It's a nice program written for those of us who find it distasteful to
remember where you've put all those programs, and what command starts
what application. With the Menu From Mars, you enter it once and then
forget about it.

The Menu From Mars is being distributed under the Shareware principle.
If you like the program and find it useful, you are requested to send a
donation of $10 to the address below. You will then be a registered
user and notified of new releases. The new releases of the Menu From
Mars will be yours for the cost of the diskette and mailing only. Once
registered, always registered.

Feel free to pass COMPLETE, UNALTERED copies of this program to friends
and bulletin boards. Copies must include all files including this
documentation. We don't want our good name ruined because someone got
a hacked copy.

So much for the nasty part. If you like the Menu From Mars, you can
register or send comments to the address below. You can even tell me
if you hate it - I don't get much mail.

Tony Martin
7623 Matera St. #104
Falls Church, VA 22043


The Menu From Mars was written in Microsoft's QuickBASIC version 4.0.
The source code used the QBSCR screen utilities for QuickBASIC 4.0
programmers (also written by The BAD SOFTWARE Company), and is a little
over 3200 lines long. As everyone probably already knows, Microsoft
and QuickBASIC are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Who would have

The Menu From Mars and its creator would like to thank Dawn Gibson and
the folks at the Department of Justice PC End-User center for their
insightful comments.


There are three files required to run the Menu From Mars. They are as

MFM.EXE The Menu From Mars itself
MFM.DAT The configuration file for MFM
PROGRAMS.DAT The data file containing your programs
MFMCNVT.EXE Convert Version 1.0 data files to version 1.1

If the Menu From Mars cannot find these files, with these particular
names, it will stubbornly refuse to run, leaving you with some rude
message about not being able to find a file.

The Menu From Mars must also be able to find a copy of COMMAND.COM
somewhere, either in the MFM directory or somewhere along your
computer's search path.


This first paragraph is for those of you who already use version 1.0
and are converting to 1.1. The PROGRAMS.DAT and MFM.DAT data file
formats have changed to allow the storage of the new Pause Message
data, new colors and Error Tone data. I've tried to make it very easy
to switch however. Included is a short conversion program called
MFMCNVT.EXE. Simply place this program in the same directory as the
PROGRAMS.DAT and MFM.DAT files and run it. The conversion is fast and
easy, but make sure it's where your .DAT files are or it will terminate
ungracefully. To save space, all error-checking was omitted from the
utility. Once that's done, you're ready to go. You can then discard
the MFMCNVT.EXE program if you want. Don't run it twice on the same
.DAT files though! Now on with the story for the beginners...

To begin using the Menu From Mars, you must find a spot on some disk
for the files. If you have a hard disk, shall we say drive C:, you
could easily make a directory for them called C:\MFM, or some similar
name. Whatever you decide, copy the files listed above to the same
spot. It is from there that you must start up the Menu. Using our
example, you would change to the C:\MFM directory and type MFM to start
it up.

When the MFM runs, it opens the data file MFM.DAT and reads some
information about how to conduct itself. One bit of info is this path
where MFM resides. It needs this so it knows where to look for its
data files in case a program it runs changes the default path, and
where to save its data files.

You can manually edit the MFM.DAT file to change the last parameter in
the first line of the file to the path you have moved the MFM files to.
Be sure to include the double quotes around the path name (").

But the easier way is to simply run the program. All you have to do is
start the program up by typing MFM . When the main screen comes
up, hit for Configuration. Move the highlight bar in the new
window to the "Save Configuration" option and hit . If the path
stored in MFM.DAT is incorrect (it almost certainly will be - I placed
a silly pathname there so this would occur), an Error Message Box will
appear stating that the current path does not exist, and what should it
do. Select the option "E)nter new path." At the prompt, simply enter
the path where the MFM files now reside. When you finish entering it,
hit , and assuming it is valid, your new path name will be saved
in the MFM.DAT file. And you're all set!


You've done the tricky part. Now comes the fun stuff. To run the Menu
From Mars, change to its subdirectory if necessary and type MFM
. You can create a simple batch file to change to the MFM
subdirectory and then run it. The Menu From Mars will then greet you.

You will see a full-screen display with a header, date and running
time, and two (mostly empty) columns for your menu entries. Two
restrictions apply that I will mention now. The first is that the Menu
From Mars must never have less than 1 menu entry (called a PRIMING
entry). If there is only one entry in the menu and you try to erase
it, it will refuse to let you do so. Secondly, you are limited to 40
menu entries. If you can handle these two restrictions, then the Menu
from Mars is for you. Perhaps, if this is true, you should plan a
short vacation to Mars soon.

The priming entry I have included is to run CHKDSK, a program that
comes with every copy of DOS sold (version 2.0 or later). If you want
to erase it, add another application first, and then erase it.


There are a couple of things to mention about the Menu From Mars and
how it operates before we go much farther. Specifically, things
universal to the program (you can ignore the pun - computer types are
hopeless punsters).


When the Menu requires you to answer a Yes/No question, it will display
a (y/N) or (Y/n) after the question. The response that is in UPPERCASE
(Y or N) tells you what the answer will be if you simply hit .

6.2. ENTER and ESCape

Throughout the program, at least in most places, the ENTER key
generally means accept and save what's been done so far. The ESCape
key generally means abort the current process. The menu will tell you
when this is not true or doesn't make sense.


The Menu From Mars can automatically detect the presence of a color or
monochrome display adapter in your machine. It will load in monochrome
if you have a monochrome display, and color if your display is CGA or
EGA. If you have a monochrome monitor with a special color display
adapter, you may want to force the Menu From Mars to use the monochrome
color set. You can do this by starting the Menu From Mars with a /M
parameter. Like this:


It will then load with only black and white. If for some reason you
want to force the program into color mode, you can start the menu with
a /C parameter. Like:



There are several commands you can use within the Menu From Mars to do
lots of wonderful things. Here we will describe each one in detail.
You may want to run the Menu and get ready to try each one as you learn
about it - this is loads of fun. Each command listed here can be
accessed by hitting the single key associated with it. For example,
simply hit the A to ADD an application to your menu list.


Typing the number next to an application will run it. If the number
begins with or is 1, 2 or 3, a small window will appear for you to
finish the number in. This is necessary because the Menu From Mars can
accommodate up to 40 applications. If you wanted to run application 2,
you would enter the 2, but the menu would not know if you were finished
or whether you wanted to run any of the applications in the twenties
(2x). So the small window pops up and waits for another key. If you
wanted to run application 1, 2 or 3, just hit to complete the
entry. Otherwise, type the second digit. The application will
immediately be run. You can hit any time to abort the number


If you want to add a parameter to the program you will be running, use
the key. An example would be if you wanted to specify a file for
your word processor. Normally, you would say something like

ED filename

where filename is the file you wanted to edit. The / function will let
you do just this. Hit the key and a small window will appear
asking which application to run. The same rules apply here as with
normally running a program. After you finish telling the menu which
application to run, a wide window appears at the top of the screen and
asks you for the parameters you wish to specify. Simply type the
parameter(s) and hit when finished. Your application will then
be run with the supplied parameter(s). At any time during the entry of
the number or parameter(s) you can hit to abort the process.


A is for ADD, as in ADD an application to your list of menu entries.
Entering while at the menu will pop up a small window where you
will enter some information about the application you wish to add.

Specifically, you need to know

The NAME of the application
The PATH where the application resides
The COMMAND to start the application
Any PARAMETERS you want to use all the time
A PAUSE MESSAGE, if one is desired

The NAME is the text you want to appear in the menu itself describing
the application. PATH is the DOS PATH where the application file(s)
are stored. The COMMAND is what you normally type to start the
application. PARAMETERS are any command line parameters you want to
use all the time. The PAUSE MESSAGE is a special feature that allows
you to display a small window with a short text message you enter. If
you enter nothing (simply hit ENTER in response the prompt), no Pause
Message will be displayed. An example of the Pause Message would be if
the program you were running required a key disk to be in drive A:
before the program would run. Your Pause Message would say

"Place key disk in drive A:"

The program would then wait with this message on the screen for the
user to hit any key before proceeding. One special key is allowed here
- if you hit ESCape, the process of running the program aborts
altogether and you are returned to the menu.

A small window will ask you for these items in this sequence, allowing
you to type the name or backspace for corrections. Once you are
finished, hit and you will be prompted for the next item of
information. The last two, where you specify any command line
parameters you want to use all the time and the Pause Message, are
optional. If you don't want any parameters, just hit . If at
any time you decide you don't want to continue, or you don't know the
answer to what it's asking for, just hit to abort the entry.

You need to be especially careful when entering the drive/path to the
application. Make SURE you add a DRIVE LETTER before the path.
Examples of valid entries are:


while these are NOT valid:


If the path is not valid, the Menu From Mars may well quit on you. So
be careful here.

When you have finished entering the application information, you will
see another box pop onto the screen and ask if you would like to enter
another application. Hit to do so, or to finish.


Hitting allows you to configure certain aspects of the menu to suit
your own tastes. This is really a lot of fun, at least for me. It is
also a lengthy section of the manual. If you have to do something or
get a drink, do it now before you start this part.

When you hit , the Menu Configuration window pops up. To select an
item on this menu, use the up and down arrow keys to move the highlight
bar to the one you want, and then hit . You can also use
or to go to the first item in the list, or or to go
to the last. The bar also wraps from the top to the bottom and vice
versa. Lets discuss each option available on this menu.


Selecting the Menu Title Line option on the Menu Configuration Menu
will let you change the title line at the top of the menu. You could
change it to your own name or your company's name. Or to something
completely ridiculous. Like "Menu From Mars."

When you select this option you will get another window on the screen
where you will enter the new text for the title line. Your text must
fit within the bracket in the window. It will not let you type past
the end of the bracket. Use the backspace key to correct errors.

When you have finished, hit and the windows will disappear, and
the menu will be re-displayed with your new title. To save this new
title as the default so that it comes up the next time you run MFM,
choose the Menu Configuration again and then select the "Save
Configuration" option. The Menu From Mars will then write your new
title line to disk. See below for more info on the "Save
Configuration" option. If at any time during this operation you change
your mind and do not want to change the title line, simply hit to
return to the menu.


If you ever hit a key that means nothing to the Menu From Mars, or you
press the wrong key at the wrong time, the Menu will make a noise. Know
here as an "Error Tone," the beep in the previous version, like 99% of
all software on the market, was fixed. You got the same sound whether
you liked it or not. Version 1.1 of the Menu From Mars now allows you
to choose from ten different built-in sounds to fill the role of the
Error Tone.

From the Configuration Menu, choose the "Error Tones" selection. A new
window appears and displays the names of ten different sounds, along
with a small box that displays the current Error Tone selection by
number. To sample one of the sounds, simply hit its number. You will
hear the sound and the number in the "Current Selection" box will

change to the sound you just heard. When the Current Selection box
displays the number of the sound you want to use, hit "Enter" to save
your selection and go back to the Configuration Menu. From there use
the "Save Configuration" selection to save your new sound to disk. If
you have made a change to the Error Tone and wish to exit without
saving the change, simply hit "ESC" to exit the Error Tone window.


Selecting the next option from the Menu Configuration window will allow
you to change the colors of all the windows in the Menu From Mars. Note
that this option will only appear if the Menu From Mars is running in
color mode.

Select the "Menu Colors" option from the Menu Configuration window and
you will see another box pop onto the left side of the screen. In it
you will see a matrix of all the possible color combinations (128 of
'em) allowable by hardware. You will also see twelve boxes in
different colors. These boxes represent the different windows you will
find throughout the menu. They are labeled with short descriptions
that tell you which window any particular box represents. There is
also a small arrow pointing to the first box on the left side. One of
the colors choices in the color matrix should also be blinking.

Somehow, she deduced, this must all be related. Indeed, she was
correct. The color choice that blinks shows your current position in
the matrix, and the sample box gives you a better idea of how the two
colors (foreground and background) look together. You can use the
arrow keys to move the blinking cursor around in the matrix. As you
move to different colors, the colors of the sample box change as well.
If you move the cursor off one side of the color matrix, it appears on
the opposite side.

Once you have a particular box looking like you want it, you can move
to the the next or previous one by hitting the + and - keys,
respectively. The little pointer will then move so you know which
window you're working with.

You can play with the color choices as little or as much as you like.
You don't even have to change them at all, though they're fun to play

When you are satisfied with your color choices, hit to accept
the changes. If you decide you don't like what you've done, you can
hit at any time to abort the process and restore the colors as
they were when you started.

To save your color configuration permanently, select the "Save
Configuration" option in the Menu Configuration window. This will
write the new colors to disk. A NOTE ON COLOR CHOICES

Choosing colors is mostly subjective and a matter of personal taste.
However, there are definitely a few "objective" combinations to

First, make sure you don't accidentally pick a combination with the
same foreground and background colors. You will not be able to read
any text in your menu. You will still see the windows, so you can go
back and change it, but I guarantee the first time it happens it'll be
a shock.

Also try and avoid harsh combinations like bright red on green, or, as
a strange friend of mine calls the "Baskin Robins" colors, magenta on
brown. These, while slightly legible, can quickly give you a headache
and slow your productivity to a standstill.


This feature allows you to adjust the duration of inactivity before
blanking the screen. The value is not relative to any real-time value.
Note that a value of 100,000 is about equal to 3 minutes on a 6 MHz
AT-class machine (no coprocessor).

Simply select SCREEN BLANKER DELAY from the Menu Configuration Window.
You'll get a new window with some brief instructions and the current
Delay Value. The default is 100,000. Use the plus <+> and minus <->
keys to increase or decrease the value, respectively. Value changes in
increments of 1000. Maximum value is 999,000; minumum is 1000.

When you have it where you want it, hit . You can also hit
to abort the operation and restore the old value.


There are a few menu options that wouldn't fit anywhere else, so I
lumped them in the "Other" category. Conveniently, they can all be
turned on or off with a single toggle. If you select the "Other
Options" choice from the Menu Configuration window you will get a
second box which lists the other options and their current status. To
change an option's status from YES to NO or vice versa, simply enter
the number of that option and the status indicator will change. Let's
look at each option individually. EXPLODING WINDOWS

This option will let you change the way the windows are placed on the
screen. If set to YES, the windows will appear to "grow" or "explode"
onto the screen. If set to NO, they will simply appear as fast as
possible ("pop" onto the screen).

If you have a particularly slow machine like an original PC, the
exploding effect may be too slow for you. Simply change this option to
NO. It seems to be about perfect on a 6 or 8 MHz AT class machine. EXPLODING MENU

This option is provided in case you are a stickler about consistency.
If you want the menu itself to "grow" or "explode" onto the screen,
change this option to YES. Since it's such a large window, it can take
a second or two. Leave it off if you don't have an AT class or faster

This option will allow you to decide whether or not you want your
application list sorted alphabetically. Simply change it to NO for no
sorting. There are reasons for this.

When you add an application to your menu, the program must decide where
to put it. If this option is set to YES, it will place it
alphabetically in the list. Note that the sort IS case sensitive (A <
a). The result, however, is that the numbers associated with all the
applications below the one you added will be shifted by one. If you
are used to running an application by habitually hitting its number,
you will not get the same application next time.

If it is more important to you to have the same numbers associated with
the same applications, you can turn sorting to NO and the menu will
then add all new applications to the bottom of the list. MENU MAKES NOISE

When this option is set to YES, the menu will make a short noise at all
entry errors. If you would prefer that the menu made no noise at all,
you can make it completely silent by changing this option to NO. If
there is someone next to you who won't shut up despite what you tell

them, at least you can vent a little frustration by telling your menu
program to be quiet. SCREEN BLANKER

The Menu From Mars is equipped with a screen blanker to prevent image
burn-in on your monitor. If you plan to leave the Menu From Mars
running for long periods, you may want to leave Screen Blanker set to
YES. After a short period of inactivity, the screen will clear and a
brief message will appear explaining that the screen has been cleared
and why, and to hit any key to return to the menu. To prevent THAT
message from burning in, it will change position on the screen every
minute or two. All you need to do is hit any key, and the menu will
immediately return.

If you don't like or want this feature, you can shut it off by changing
the option to NO.


This option on the Menu Configuration window allows you to save your
current menu setup. It will save the following settings to disk.

Color Choices
Exploding Windows
Exploding Menu
Menu Makes Noise
Sorted Applications
Menu Title Line

If you don't like the changes you have made since the last time you
used this option, they will not be saved. Once you get your
configuration the way you want it, don't forget to save it using this
option. Once you select it by highlighting it and hitting ,
your settings will be written to disk and you will be returned to the

And that's all of the Configuration command info (finally!). Now we'll
get back to the commands.


This command lets you enter DOS commands directly from the Menu From
Mars. If you have multiple DOS commands to deal with, try the J
command (Jump to DOS). But this is ideal if you want a quick directory
listing or to format a disk or whatever. Hit and you'll get a
short but wide window where you can type in a DOS command. As soon as
you hit , the command will be executed. If you hit at any
time or with no text you will be returned to the menu. When at
the menu, you can hit the F3 key to repeat the last DOS command you


This function will let you delete an application from the menu. Simply
enter and a small window will ask you which applica- tion you wish
to erase. Enter a number in the usual fashion. Another window will
then appear asking you to confirm the deletion of the application from
the list. Enter to erase it or or to abandon the
operation. You can hit escape at any time to abort the operation.
After erasing the entry, the menu will be re-displayed without the
offending application.

7.7. H - HELP

When you hit at the menu screen you will see a window listing all
the Menu From Mars commands, plus a short reminder about some of the

functions of the Menu From Mars. You can enter any of these commands
(except Help) right from this screen. or will return you
to the menu.

The F1 key will also call the help function.

7.8. J - JUMP TO DOS

Hitting the key will take you directly to DOS. You can do anything
there you normally would, except that your memory (RAM) will be
limited, because currently in memory will be the original copy of DOS,
the Menu From Mars, and now a new copy of DOS. That leaves about 460K
of RAM (in a 640K machine) left for you to play with. To return from
DOS back to the menu, removing the second copy of DOS as well, type
EXIT. The menu will then return.

Here I mention a strange quirk of the program/DOS/some machines. On
some machine/DOS combinations, the Menu From Mars will abort if you try
and return (EXIT) back to the menu from a different drive than the Menu
From Mars is on. To prevent problems, return to the drive that
contains the Menu before typing EXIT.


This function allows you to change any of the information about an
application that you entered when you added it to the menu. Hit and
a small window will appear asking which application you wish to modify.
Enter a number in the usual fashion. When finished, a larger
information window will appear which displays the currently stored
information about the application. To change a particular item, type
the number next to it. For example, if you wanted to change the way
the name appeared on the menu, type <1>. When you have selected the
item to change, a prompt will appear and you can type the change. Hit
when finished, and the old item will be replaced with the one
you just entered.

This process can continue until you are satisfied with the information.
To save it, hit . The new information will be written to disk
and you will be returned to the menu, now updated with the new

You can also hit at any time to abort the changes made.

7.10. Q - QUIT

This command simply quits the menu and returns you to DOS. The screen
display that existed when you started the Menu From Mars will be
restored. will perform the same function as .

7.11. V - VERSION

This command will pop in a small window displaying the version number
of the MENU From MARS you are using. Hit any key to return to the


So there you have the Menu From Mars. Not so alien, is it? It was
designed to be a simple and straight-forward menu system. You may be
asking yourself, "Where are all the bells and whistles, the autodialer,
the file manager, the notepad?" If you wanted those things, you
wouldn't be looking at a menu program. Besides, you can always pick
your favorite autodialer, file manager or notepad and add them to the
menu. Then they're only one or two keys away.

I hope you find the Menu From Mars useful and easy. If you have any
suggestions that you think would make the Menu easier to use or more
useful, drop me line at the address at the top of this document.

If you would like information on the other products from BAD SOFTWARE,
drop us a line again.


9.1. Appendix A - File Formats

If you need to manually create or edit these files, be sure to include
all commas and double quotes (").




A = Exploding Windows (0 = NO, -1 = YES)
B = Exploding Menu (0 = NO, -1 = YES)
C = Sorted Applications (0 = NO, -1 = YES)
D = Menu Makes Noise (0 = NO, -1 = YES)
E = Screen Blanker (0 = NO, -1 = YES)
F = Screen Blanker Delay
String1 = Title Line Text
String2 = Drive and Path to Menu From Mars files
G/H = Main Menu Foreground/Background Colors
I/J = Configuration Menu Foreground/Background Colors
K/L = Title Line Window Foreground/Background Colors
M/N = Other Options Menu Foreground/Background Colors
O/P = Help Screen Foreground/Background Colors
Q/R = Add Application Window Foreground/Background Colors
S/T = DOS Command Window Foreground/Background Colors
U/V = Erase Application Window Foreground/Background Colors
W/X = Modify Application Window Foreground/Background Colors
Y/Z = Parameter Window Foreground/Background Colors
1/2 = Error Window Foreground/Background Colors
3/4 = Number Input Window Foreground/Background Colors
5/6 = Screen Blanker Delay Window Foreground/Background
7/8 = Load / Pause Window Foreground/Background Colors
9/0 = Error Tone Window Foreground/Background Colors
a = Error Tone

All single letters/numbers represent integer values. StringX stands
for text enclosed in double quotes. Foreground colors are in the range
of 0-15, and background colors are in the range 0-7. Title Line must be
50 characters or less. Menu drive/path must be 60 characters or less.




String1 = Application Name
String2 = Application Drive and Path
String3 = Application Start Command
String4 = Application Parameters (if any)
String5 = Application Pause Message (if any)

There will be a one-line entry for each program. There might not be
any parameters (String4) or a Pause Message (String 5) for the
application, but there must be a field for it. Enter the null string
("") if there are no parameters.

9.2. Appendix B - Menu From Mars Command List

# - Enter a number to run that Application
/ - Run an Application with parameters
A - ADD an Application to the menu
C - CONFIGURE the Menu
D - Enter a DOS command
E - ERASE an Application from the list
H - HELP for the Menu From Mars (Also F1)
J - JUMP to DOS temporarily (EXIT to return to menu)
M - MODIFY information about an Application
Q - QUIT the Menu (Also X)
V - VERSION Number of the Menu From Mars

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