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Everything posted by Tatwi

  1. Can't argue with that! Software wise, no one needs real retro computer to have an authentic TTY experience, because almost any keyboard/screen combo can be attached to perfect software emulation on the other end. Using CP/M while sitting a real DEC VT-100 would feel very retro even if the OS is provided by a dusty old PC that's aging gracefully under a desk 500 miles away. It's for this reason that I feel the "human interface devices" are more important for the overall retro experience than the computing circuitry, with the only exceptions being if one wishes build, modify, or study the hardware. For instance, I don't generally use VICE on my desktop, because it just feels like I am using my desktop, because... I am using my desktop. Now if I invested in a Commodore monitor and a Keyrah for my VIC20, I'd be happy to use VICE in that setup, because it would feel like I am using a VIC20/C64 (especially if I tortured myself by using a tape deck too lol). Anyway, I encourage you to consider the ways you can fully immerse yourself in the era to get the most out of the experience. An old looking screen, an old feeling keyboard, a few vintage magazines and books, the oldest coffee mug you can find, and your phone shoved to the back of a drawer where it can cease to be a yammering naggy-pants for an hour... Maybe a stale ashtray for maximum authenticity... Live the dream, man!
  2. So I have been off gallivanting around the Internet for the past year or so, looking for retro stuff, and I stumbled upon this whole group of stuff that I didn't previously know existed. You can play retro TV set, arcade, and computer games in the handheld Gameboy/PSP form factor! There are many newly made handheld game machines, with 2.8" - 6" screens, that are designed to run emulators on Linux or Android. Here's a website that catalogues them: https://www.rghandhelds.com/handheld-specs Totally insane how many there are and how many companies make them! You can buy new shells, screen upgrades, battery upgrades, and multi-game-carts, for older devices, like the super cool looking Gameboy Advance. Checkout how cool this new GBA chassis with white buttons looks. They make game controllers that mount onto smartphones. Combine an older phone with a mount-on controller and software like RetroArch and you've got a really neat retro handheld retro gaming setup. The emulators have a ton of screen filters and scaling options that make the beautiful new LCD panels look like larger, clearer CRTs or dot matrix displays, so you're not stuck with the super clean emulator look. Anyway, it's really amazing how many systems can be emulated using these handhelds. They are a lot of fun! And many of them last for 4+ hours of straight game play before needing a charge. Personally, I have two of the lesser expensive systems, the Powkiddy Q90 and the Retroid Pocket 2+. They cost me $45 and $145 CAD after shipping, respectively. The Q90 plays up to Gameboy Advance well, while the RP2+ can do SNES, N64, and some Android games, like Minecraft, Stardew Valley, and Fruit Ninja Classic. Being an Android device, the RP2+ has amazing battery life and even leaving it standby, I only charge it once or twice a week, depending on how often I use it. Truthfully, I don't play the retro games as much as I thought I would, but I really do enjoy laying in bed playing the original Gameboy version of Tetris on my RP2+, like I used on my original Gameboy back in the ancient times. I also like playing the C64 version of BurgerTime on it. Here are some helpful links: https://old.reddit.com/r/SBCGaming/ - Good starting point, with lots of links and chatter https://main.retro-handhelds.com/ - Helpful blog https://www.youtube.com/c/RetroGameCorps/videos - Video reviews of many devices and firmware https://retrogamecorps.com/ - Another helpful blog (Above Youtuber's blog) I'm not here to sell ya anything, just sharing some joy!
  3. TTY only graphics, no sound... So close man, so close! The X16 is over-engineered, "too much" really. There's something to be said about a ZX Spectrum with a faster CPU, more RAM, and SD card storage - Would it be amazing? No. Does it need to be? No! If someone made rudimentary graphics and sound for the Z80-MBC2, along the lines of the ZX Spectrum, then it would be an ideal little retro computer to do retro things with. Something between "too much", "not enough", and "the Colour Maximite is weird".
  4. That is a neat model! Kinda surprised there are model kits for old game consoles (says the guy who has a C64 mini and original VIC20 as desk ornaments, both of which are in storage, because I am out of desk space...).
  5. Those are nifty. I think the choice to colour the extra labels is interesting... something vaguely familiar about that look, but I can't say why. I like them, but at ~$73 CAD that's outside of my "for shits and giggles" budget. I already have two sets of custom keycaps I'm not using and I don't have a chassis that would do these justice, so I'd have to get that too! Incidentally, if you're in the market for SA profile keycaps, take note that some of the sets out there don't have the correct heights per key row. The white/red set I bought look and feel amazing, but they were hard to use. For example, when pressing W the S was so tall that I had to purposefully reach way down over it to avoid pressing it as well. Basically, they are all too tall. Bummer too, because the looked amazing with the red backlight on this keyboard. Anyway, nice find!
  6. That is a good deal! My low-end laptop has the Celeron N3450 version of this SOC (with LPDDR4 2400MHz rather than DDR3) and I'm able to play Minecraft for Windows 10 in Win10 Pro on it at 1366x768. It runs Linux very well, apart from the battery life being poor compared to Windows. So the cpu/gpu alone on this board makes it a much better deal for computing than a Pi, but it also has a SATA port which is infinitely better than booting from an SD card or USB. Would be neat to put one of these into a C64c case with a KEYRAH keyboard adapter and custom ports/covers for the rear. Add your favourite USB controller, OS, and emulators (probably up to Gamecube) and it would be a very capable retro-modern machine. There are celeron/pentium mini-pc units on AliExpress that cost a bit more, but include the RAM and storage. Some are even tinier than this SBC. So that's another way to go if you're looking for a plug-in computer. One thing this SBC doesn't have is simple GPIO pins, but a Pi Pico or Arduino UNO could be used for that kind of thing. Any thoughts on what you will use it for?
  7. https://www.retroreversing.com/famicom-nes-development-kit/
  8. The Colour Maximite systems are effectively this concept. One system that is both the programming and execution platform. They also boot to directly to a unified programming and execution environment. Bonus: Said environment uses the BASIC language at roughly the speed of native C64 machine language. Really bummed out that wasn't able to get either.
  9. Will this computer serve a purpose for an end users or is this a project where you design and build a computer simply for the joy of doing so, regardless of the resulting machine's purpose? Totally fine either way, of course; I was just curious.
  10. I've been interested in computerized music since the late 1990s, not enough to really stick with it sadly, but I've done some stuff here and there with Impulse Tracker, Mad Tracker, Rebirth, Reason, and Sunvox. So when this popped up in my Youtube suggestions for some reason, I figured, "what the heck, I like that song"... Wow man, I honestly had no idea software such as this existed! It's kind of insane how realistic and complete this reproduction sounds, given that it's made with just software. Compare that to something as advanced as the Amiga in the 1990s... let alone sound tracking on the 8 bit computers... And this Garage Band software is just crazy science fiction. Heck, it's used on a touch screen even! It's amazing how far music production software has come in the last 40 years. From boops and bleeps all the way to writing a realistic sounding symphony using a device that fits in your pocket (I suppose a pen would also fit in one's pocket). I've never been a fan of the "chiptune" sound, but I do appreciate it in the context of the catchy songs included in many Nintendo and Sega games I played back in the late 80s, early 90s. So I wonder what kind of music production software folks will come up with the Commander X16.
  11. That's a real bummer. Bell Canada has the rights here, so these shows broadcast on the SciFi channel. Netflix also has all the old shows. I checked the Bell "watch online" website just now, but the new show hasn't been uploaded yet. It probably won't be available until 9PM EST, because that's when it airs on cable TV.
  12. Neat stuff. Good work! Uniformly changing selection size: Rectangle or Circle Select Tool Menu: [X] Expand from center [X] Fixed [Aspect Ratio] GIMP Menu: Select > Shrink... (or Grow...) > Do the math and enter a number to shrink/grow the selection
  13. As a lifetime standard ANSI US 104 layout user, it pains me to say that the majority of laptops and Chromebooks sold in Canada come with a 00011009 Canadian Multilingual Standard keyboard. My kids use that layout. Bleh! Anyway, for what it's worth, it's a popular layout here.
  14. We rented it on the cable tv thing. I watched 3 times. Like any movie, it had some technical issues, but in all the ways that matter this movie was everything that it should have been. They put a lot of effort into making it feel like a Ghostbusters movie, rather than just a movie in that universe about some of those people. The sounds, the music, some of the jokes and their comedic timing, and the physical references to items that were in the other movies, made this one feel like another Ghostbusters movie. That's great! All I wanted as a fan. I think it would have been better without the older brother and the girl friend, giving all that screen time instead to Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, McKenna Grace and Logan Kim to develop their characters and have more adventures/discoveries, especially as a team. Like cut out all the Finn Wolfhard stuff, put Rudd driving Ecto 1, and Coon discovering Egon's motives earlier, then use the extra screen time to have a new ghost busting team build to the climax where they're in over their heads and the old guys step in to help them win... But, it was good enough. I liked it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some awesome to enjoy...
  15. I like your hat. I wear a straw hat of a similar style around the yard, but it's not something I really would have thought I would wear. My dad wore one like it when he was gardening, so I picked it up for giggles when we were in Cuba a few years ago. But ya know, I quite like your hat, Bruce, and I wonder... would something similar suit my ugly mug? I do need a new hat before bald spot burning season begins...
  16. It is probably best suited for assembly programming, like the rest of the 8 bit systems, and that's totally fine. Being entirely open, it is possible that folks could write a BASIC compiler which translates custom BASIC commands into efficient machine language routines, so one could write all of an advanced program in BASIC. So that's interesting. It should be noted that this project is headed by that dude who had some pretty crap criticism of this community. Nice product, excellent follow through, but I'm not real keen on where it's coming from.
  17. I've done a lot of QBasic 1.1 in DOSBox, approximately emulating a 386 33MHz computer. In my GitHub repo I have some software and benchmark stuff that I putter with. Check it out if you'd like. Over the years I have tested loads of setups along these lines and DOSBox really is the easiest to work with, due to how it shares the files system with the host system (which is better on Windows than Linux, due the line ending thing). However, there are a couple other ways of using DOS that are fun. 1. FreeDOS on modern hardware at full speed. The downside is that if you don't have an ISA slot on your "modern" system, you're just not going to have sound, due to lack of drivers. You may be able to use a parallel port sound card, if your motherboard... maybe. FreeDOS is compatible with MSDOS and it comes with a wide variety of software and programming tools in various languages. It's even bootable from CDROM. 2. Emulating a whole PC with PCem or Box86. This is kind of neat, as it uses the BIOS files for motherboards and video cards to emulate systems as a whole and with more accuracy than DOSBox. DOSBox really is only intended to run games, rather than applications and operating systems. In my testing, PCem runs QBasic significantly faster than real hardware of the same specifications, but it's good enough. This is much more cumbersome to use, due to the need for disk images, but there is a type of image file that Windows 10 can natively mount. I'd say that my real Pentium 233MMX desktop is too fast for even the QBasic 1.1 IDE, let alone compiled QBasic 4.5, but I suppose that does depend on what you're doing. I paid a whole $25 for this computer (Compaq Deskpro 4000) 20 years ago, but now you're looking at $200+ for an untested potential piece of junk, so I can't say that I recommend going this route. Using PCem to emulate a computer is more accessible, because even an older desktop or cheap laptop can handle a fairly hefty retro system. Here's an approximate level of emulation for you... Modern Computer: Retro Computer Core2 Duo 2.8GHz: Pentium 100 Core2 Quad 2.3GHz: Pentium 100 Celeron N3450 (Quad Core Laptop): Pentium 100 AMD FX-8320: Pentium 200 Core i3 10105f: Pentium II 233 Core i5 12600K: Pentium II 300 with 3DFX Voodoo graphics It takes a lot more CPU power to emulate a Voodoo card, so all the other estimates are for a standard 2D VGA/SVGA card, such as a Trident or S3 Virge. Ps. The Raspberry Pi Zero (original) can run DOSBox consistently at a 386 25MHz level (4000 "cycles" or so), provided it is launched from the Rasbian Lite command line or JWM. Any larger windows managers / DEs suck up too many resources. The Pi0 2 or Pi3 or Pi4 can likely do DOSBox well enough for games like SimCity 2000.
  18. That's actually really neat. I didn't know they made scopes that connected to a computer for their interface/screen. Whoah... it's been 30 years since I used an oscilloscope! Teehee... I once tried convince my wife to go on a 14 or so hour drive to buy this super cool looking old scope that still worked, "just because". Let me see if I can find a picture... Something like that. Definitely less practical than your garden variety square screened scope or the nifty tool you have, but it sure would look great on one's desk! ... There's something to be said about having real knobs and buttons to use... Life itself is a tactile experience and I think we really miss out on some of that in today's tech world; if you're not tinkering with circuit stuff, you're generally just tapping a smooth screen, clacking a keyboard, and swooshing a mouse. Console style gamepads and desktop keyboards are still full tactile experiences, but they lack the visual aspect of tuning a system by turning knobs and flicking switches while watching dials and screens... That old tech from the 50s-70s was really built for people to touch and feel, to connect with in a practical manner. I keep a rotary phone on my desk, "just because". It's not hooked up to anything. I just like it.
  19. Well, that's pretty much what I would consider a perfect modern 8 bit computer. Probably cost 100 EUR fully assembled and shipped, which is about 138 CAD. I guess that's fine. However... Is there something that this version of BBC BASIC can do that the version included with RISC OS for the $7 Raspberry Pi Zero cannot? If not, then a person who is only going to use BASIC does not need this product, because the Pi0 can boot to BASIC almost instantly while also being compatible with USB keyboards and HDMI monitors, which I imagine would be more convenient than PS/2 and SVGA. This is not a complaint, but a legitimate question, does the Agon have hardware capabilities exposed to BASIC that make it better than running BBC BASIC on something else? I Googled, but did not find an answer. It will be interesting to see what assembly programmers can do with the machine.
  20. On a similar, but different note... What I REALLY WANT is an 8 bit handheld in the (+ [__] - -) form factor that can plug into a PS/2 keyboard and an SVGA screen (using a custom dongle with a small plug). This way the handheld is both the computer that makes the games and the portable console which plays the games. Again, something akin to the Pico-8 fantasy console, but as a handheld device. That would be epic and something kids might actually enjoy, especially if there was an official website where they download/upload games (either by micro SD or a built in Wifi browser).
  21. I'm right there with ya man! Ideally I'd like a 386DX at 40MHz (AMD variant), but a 486SX 25MHz or 486DX 33MHz would do - Intentionally not too fast. 4MB RAM, VGA video, sound card, DOS/Windows 3.11. I'd use it for QBasic 1.1 / QuickBasic 4.5 (DOS) and Visual Basic 6.0 programming for poops and giggles. That said, I already do QBasic stuff on a small laptop (Lenovo Ideapad 100e 81CY Educational "Winbook", Intel Celeron N3450) using DOSBox running in Windows 10. When full screen it's actually really convincing. My wife's work issued her the next generation in the Thinkpad educational chassis, which has the real Thinkpad keyboard, but is otherwise exactly the same as the other Intel Celeron N4100 based Chromebooks/Winbooks. Here's a visual comparison, Neither look very 1990's, but they do have the early 2000's vibe. They're definitely thin and very light compared to even mid 2000's laptops! Fortunately, the keyboards are full sized. For DOS, these are probably as close to ideal as we're going to get. Obviously it would be better to run DOS software on real hardware, but I don't think it's really feasible to design and build a custom 486 without OEM support. Maybe something could be done using a PC/104 board, but it would be thick and would require a custom graphics solution to work with a modern LCD. For a custom 8 bit laptop, your best bet would be to use a Raspberry Pi Zero with a compatible 10" LCD as a video card and keyboard interface, and use its GPIO pins or other connectivity to communicate with a custom 8 bit computer board. You could source new replacement keyboards for an older laptop, such as a Dell Inspiron, and reverse engineer its keyboard matrix to connect it to a Teensy style microcontroller which would then be connected to the Pi0 via USB and the 8 bit computer via serial connection. A joystick could be connected directly the 8 bit computer. Some OEM laptop battery could be used with an off the shelf lithium battery charging circuit (it doesn't need to be those giant 18650 cells). And a chassis to fit that exact stuff could be made out of whatever is handy. This would be a lot of work, but I think it's within the bounds of reason to accomplish, especially if you use one of the many existing 8 or 16 hobby computer designs. That said, the retail cost of a single prototype would be around $500-700 in parts, materials, shipping, and taxes. By comparison, the Lenovo Ideapad 100e cost me $260 CAD and I've seen their equivalent on sale in the USA for $180 USD. As such, it makes a lot more financial and practical sense to use one of these cheap, small, brand spanking new, computers with Windows to emulate older machines. Sure the specs of these laptops are terrible by modern standards, but they can emulate every 8 and 16 bit computer and game console, while also being able to play Minecraft, browse the web, watch YouTube, and do your taxes - on battery for 8+ hours no less. As a retail product, I would spend $150 USD ($200ish CAD) on a custom 8 bit laptop that was designed for programming games and applications on the machine, for the machine. That would be a fun toy and a neat hobby to share with like minded people (akin to the Pico-8 fantasy console). Any more than that and I'd rather carry on using what I already have, from a Pi0W, Arduino UNO, and Pentium 233MMX desktop to my modern PC/laptop running emulators, because they're fun too! Any of the laptop OEMs could knock this out of the park for a retail price $50 USD, using a real 8 bit CPU, etc. and a cheap LCD/keyboard/chassis/battery. Sadly, the five of us aren't really a viable market.
  22. I would be so happy to own even the worst, slowest automatic Datsun 240z, because they just look so cool man! That or a late 70s Volvo station wagon. Heck, it would be neat to have my 1990 Isuzu Impulse XS back, rusty and gutted as it was (I intended to put a roll cage in it and wreck it over time in rally races, but then I realized I was poor and I traded it for repairs to our minivan). Vehicles sure are money pits! QBASIC, on the other hand, I can fully enjoy on any old piece of junk computer. Definitely a point in favour of software related hobbies. That said, there's something fun, an ephemeral euphoria, about the experience of driving a vehicle that a person has some kind of connection to. That might be trundling along in a Model T on a lazy Sunday afternoon or whizzing down the road on a recumbent bicycle or maybe even crushing junkers with a tank; It doesn't really matter what the vehicle is, it's the... duality? the sense of being more than just a person inside a machine... and that's not an experience that can be delivered through computerization, emulation. You really just have to do it to experience it. It is nice that the Boomers got to enjoy all this stuff, with their decent jobs and utterly astounding pay to cost of living ratios. 1946 to 1986, thems were the days to be a North American I tell ya! Peak of Humanity that was. Ah well. So yeah computers, that thing I do because it's cheap and better than staring at the wall.
  23. I've used PHPBB in the past for my own site (more than a decade ago) and it was fine. It's forum software with a SQL database that does all the standard forum stuff. It's also free and regularly update and open source, meaning you are welcome to submit your own improvements and fixes back to the main project. It's also able to be themed. Here, check out this awesome "1996" theme on their example page. https://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/style/1996/demo/3.2 If that's not historically accurate, nothing is!
  24. This is why I think you have to make an entire imaginary universe to go along with your imaginary computer. There just aren't any logical reasons to not use modern computers/tablets/phones for one's modern life, even when factoring in cost, availability, and compatibility. But hey, nothing stopping us from reveling in the imaginary! It would be neat to live in a world where computers never advanced passed the 8 bit design. For some foible of physics that was just the best that could be achieved. Yet we had most of the other neat tech, such as giant LCD TVs, smartphones, wearables, e-books/e-paper, etc. The 8 Bit universe... what would that look like?
  25. I've thought about this myself a number of times and it's really difficult, if not impossible, to answer objectively. Even if we're talking about a totally imaginary universe, we're still colored by reality that we can get an enormous amount of computing power in the real world for very little money. With that in mind, I would rather think of it as what type of software environment and end user experience would I be happy with, because then the question of hardware would be answered simply by, "whatever it takes to accomplish that smoothly". Ideally, I think it would be great if everything ran from (attached to, physically and/or wirelessly) to a smartphone no larger than my old Samsung Galaxy S6. Except it would use the Window Phone 7 UI, because of all the mobile UIs, WP7 was the most simple, useful, elegant, and enjoyable. When attached to a keyboard, mouse, and external screen, it would have all desktop publishing, CAD, and programming functionality one would expect, except it would all be one coherent system rather than a mishmash of UI/UX paradigms (Blender/GIMP vs. Adobe vs. Corel etc.). Everything would work the same in phone, desktop, and laptop modes. Modern Unreal Engine level 3D graphics would be possible, but then so would everything 3D and 2D below that level of complexity and detail. The best part would be that the system would consist of... The 5" screen smartphone. A "home cloud" storage brick that holds data for multiple users and can be linked to an online storage account. Whatever human interface devices you preferred to use, from huge displays to the laptop form factor. A coherent user interface throughout the entire software package, including a software development suit that has common functionality for several languages, from C# down to ASM, such that one can use the system to create all possible software that would run on the system. In today's real world, everyone except high-end gamers and scientists who need real super computers would be content with octo-core bigLITTLE ARM based SOCs computers. Add a super GPU dock and you'd have the gamers too...
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