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Everything posted by Tatwi

  1. Aye lad, I be just a plain o'l boring male. I care not what ye do or ye desire, lest ye harm another. Arrr, matey, arr! I guess I am also a Disney pirate... Yeah, that's about right.
  2. TL;DR: I'm nobody, just some douche bag Canadian. Hello! I refer to myself an "Advanced Dullard", because if there is one thing that my journey through life has taught me, it's that absolutely everything I can do, someone else can do way better. You know what though, it's fine. I've made my peace with not being the next Isaac Newton. Whatever! Like all young people, when I was a youth I was under the strange delusion that I was important and that my thoughts and opinions mattered. This was a fascinating double standard, because I have also always found self-promotion and hubris to be utterly repulsive. Thankfully, as I approach "the big four four", I better understand the insignificant role I play in the cosmos. I'm just a tiny piece of the universe trying to understand itself. That said, I "do stuff" that might be of interest to ye fellow retro folk. So, allow me to ramble about that for the next five hundred words, because I sure love the sound of my own inner monologue! Most days it's voiced by Norm MacDonald. OK truthfully, I mostly "did stuff", as I don't really do a whole hell of a lot of anything anymore. This is due to a combination funding and time management concerns. You see, I am an obsessive-compulsive person who can happily work on something for 36 straight hours, provided I am not distracted. My mind can juggle a thousand balls, but the moment someone asks me a question, the balls tumble to the ground and it can take hours or even weeks before I can get all those balls back up in the air again. I loathe distractions with the fiery breath of the most vile man-crying*1 dragon. What this means in practice is that many of the accomplishments on my GitHub page represent huge amounts of time where I shut out the world. The very same world that includes my loving wife and our three awesome children. And ya know what, I just don't want to do that anymore, so I have reduced the scope of my projects; If I don't want to change who I am, at least I can change what I do. In the past I have created many mods to the Star Wars Galaxies emulator, for myself and for others, as well as client tools, mods, and documentation for the original game from 2003-2011. I've also puttered with World of Warcraft server mods, No Man's Sky mods, Torchlight II mods, and a slew of other creative and programming projects. Also, I am 4 years behind on completing RocketTux, which was supposed to be a "a simple game made on a Chromebook for Chromebooks", but is now just a general HTML5 game pain in my arse. I learned to program in BASIC on a Commodore 64c at school when I was in seventh grade (1989-90), but I really didn't get serious about programming as a hobby until I discovered just how expensive children are. Prior to, I preferred outdoors hobbies that aren't free, such as traveling to neat places to go kayaking. Yup, programming and playing computer games is what I do "because I can" rather than out of some super duper love of doing it. Still, they aren't bad hobbies. Low risk of drowning and being eaten by bears... yeah... Anyway, moving on. These days, when I am not aimlessly wandering around collecting things in Guild Wars 2, I like to putter away at QBasic in DOSBox and poke at the not quite dead body of RocketTux (JavaScript). QBasic is great, because it's very nostalgic for me, as I learned it in high school, and it's a really cohesive programming environment. Perhaps one day I will look into using QB64 to make native Windows or Linux programs. Ah Linux programming... I always intended to make desktop programs with Glade and C... Maybe one day! "Ahh... cool? But why are you here?", you ask! Well, I like the idea of a new, inexpensive, retro computing platform that a nostalgic community can enjoy together. In the case of the X16, I sure wish it were an actual product, because I am completely uninterested in using the emulator, but it's not a perfect world. I await the day I can purchase an X16e and start... starting stuff. I used to maintain a website and/or a blog, because I enjoy writing and making guides. However, I got rid of all that, because it just sucked too much time away from actually doing the things I would write about. I shut down my websites, I deleted my blog, and I don't participate in social media. Years later, I don't miss any of it and I really do have a lot more time (and head-space) to write documentation for my projects and to post on topic specific forums such as this one. I am thinking that eventually I will produce some software for the Commander X16 and/or I will participate in a community project and that will lead me to writing here or on GitHub. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for being social. I am just not interested in the extremes it's taken to and the other issues with the current platforms. What was wrong with ICQ and mailing lists?! Kids these days, I tell ya. And there you have it, a whole mess of crap about me that no cares about, but I posted it here anyway. If you've made it this far truly, we both need to make better use of our time! Sincerely, R. Bassett Jr. (Tatwi) Ps. The R. is for Rob. The origin of Tatwi is literally, "Cool, I can make a second character in Star Wars Galaxies now! I should make a wife for my main character. What would be a good name for a strong woman in Star Wars? There's Anakin's mother, Shmi... She was from Tatooine. Hmm... Tatshmi? That doesn't sound right... Tatbree... Tatlea... Tatwi? Hey, that's not bad!" and then I ended up playing that character so much that it's who most people knew me as. "I'm a dude btw", was a popular phrase back then. *1 - A footnote on man-crying: I realized one day, when I smashed our vacuum into my hand with such force as to tear through my skin with a blunt portion of the chassis (after I had I gently tugged on the hose and that upright sucker keeled right the fuck over), that I no longer cried when I was physically injured, I got really, really angry instead. Biologically and historically, I think that makes a lot sense. I imagine that in the world before civilization there was a high likelihood that being injured meant that something was trying to eat you. It stands to reason that those who fought with great furry to protect themselves ended up raising more children than those who did not. Going from "Zero" to "Blind Rage" in that context is obviously helpful, but it's tremendously detrimental in its diminutive form of going from "Busy" to "Fuck Off and Leave Me Alone!" when you're child can't find the peanut butter. I enjoy being a man and I have no desire to diminish or deny my wild nature, but I also understand that it's my responsibility while wielding this hammer to remain aware that not all problems are nails.
  3. My kids mostly use them for watching shows on Netflix/Disney+ and listening to music on Spotify when they aren't doing their school work through Google Classroom (assignment/document tracking/review/submission) and Google Docs. However, there are many web based programs for content creation (graphics and video) and programming (such as Scratch and the Arduino web editor). Additionally, all Chromebooks from 2020 on can run most Android apps/games. Years ago now I bought myself a Chromebook and I found it too limiting and cumbersome, but that's because I am an advanced Linux and Windows user who just needs to use a bunch of things that aren't in the scope of ChromeOS. A "Winbook" is more suited to my use case. That said, Chromebooks are fantastic for anything web related, including the use of both Google's and Microsoft's online office suits. For a normal person who isn't doing stuff like running virtual machines or playing Windows games, Chromebooks are totally fine as their only computer.
  4. The documentation for the X16 indicates that BASIC programs for the C64 are 100% compatible, so long as PEEK and POKE commands aren't used. So you could start there, using some existing programs to get comfortable with it. Here is how to use the run command from Notepad++ on the file you are working on (in Windows). Download and install Notepad++ Download the X16 emulator x16emu_win-r38.zip file Open Windows Explorer, go to C:\Program Files(x86), right click > New > Folder, and name it x16emu In Explorer go to your Downloads folder, double click on x16emu_win-r38.zip to open so you can see the files CLT+A to select all the files, then CTL+C to copy them (no indication of success on this), then go back to C:\Program Files(x86)\x16emu and CTL+P to paste the files Open Notepad++, create a new program (type in all caps!) and save the file to your Documents folder Press F5 to open the Run dialog and paste the following into it run the currently active file "C:\Program Files (x86)\x16emu\x16emu.exe" -run -bas "$(FULL_CURRENT_PATH)" Press the Save... button to open the save command dialog box Type Commander X16 Emulator in the Name box Check the ALT box Select X from the drop down that says None by default Press OK to return to the Run dialog box Press the Run button From now on you can run your program by simply pressing ALT+X in Notepad++. I attached a screenshot of the settings used to make Notepad++ look similar to the X16's BASIC interpreter. The settings are in Settings > Style Configurator... One important thing to note is that Notepad++ can't handle special character commands in strings for use with the PRINT statement, such as changing the color of the font, etc. Lower case letters will print their associated "shifted" PETSCII characters, but I don't think the Commodore key based characters can be done in Notepad++ (or any other ASCII/ISO based text editor). Perhaps someone else could tell us!
  5. Now that Microsoft will be competing directly with the OEMs in the educational market, I wonder how that licensing will play out. Is MS going to risk alienating their highest volume customers or will they be content to be another "also ran" in the market? Quarter 4 2021 their Windows OEM licensing dropped by 3%, which isn't much but it is telling given the lead up to and launch of Windows 11. I wonder if OEM sales have become such a small portion of MS's income that they no longer care about pissing off OEMs. That and MS know that consumers will demand Windows on desktops, at least for a few more years. Give it another 5 years and all those kids who grew up using Chomebooks in school may well demand ChromeOS/Android laptops and desktops in their workplaces and homes. I am pretty sure that was Google's long game and it may well work for them. Had I not educated my kids on how to use Windows and MS Word/Excel, no one else would have. It's been Chromebooks since our eldest was in third grade and now that she's in 10th grade, it's the only computer she wants to use. Really, it's the only one she needs too. I wonder if Microsoft even sees this on the horizon.
  6. I present to you my laptop, a Lenovo 100e 81CY (Gen1) "educational Winbook" from 2018 that I bought a few years ago for a $260 CAD (from newegg.ca). Let's just take a moment to appreciate that I was able to buy a whole real computer for only $70 more than the retail price of the Windows 10 Pro license it came with. Yeah, it came with Win10 Pro. And a 120GB EMMC storage drive that has enough space to actually use Windows Update and your own software! Jokes aside, this computer is incredible for its price. I like to think of it as the modern day ZX Spectum, cheap yet immensely relevant and useful. Here are its specs: Quad core Intel Celeron N3450 CPU 4GB LPDDR4 2133MHz RAM Intel 500 integrated GPU 120GB EMMC solid state storage 11.6" 1366x768 TN screen (visual quality sucks by modern standards) Wifi and Bluetooth Battery that lasts 11+ hours Trackpad/mouse with actual buttons! Keyboard with zero "deck flex" An ABS plastic chassis that's built like a tank. Webcam Stereo speakers HDMI, USB3, USB2, and 3.5mm headphone/mic, MicroSD slots/ports CPU performance wise it's pretty well identical to my 95W Core2 Quad Q8200 desktop from 2008, which is amazing considering the N3450 is a 6W CPU. Of course the "graphics card" is very limited, but it's still able to play 2D games like Stardew Valley and older 3D games, as well as emulate every old computer up to a Pentium 75MHz (PCem) and every 8bit console. It also runs the full range of everyday Windows and Linux software without being painfully slow, though I don't own any of the Adobe or Sony software so I can't say how well that kind of photo and video editing software would run. Still, this modest and cheap computer can run thousands of genuinely useful programs/games on battery power, for hours at a time. Obviously this isn't impressive when compared to the likes of a Macbook Pro, but I think we old computer enthusiasts can appreciate how amazing this machine is. It's way more capable than a top of the line laptop from even the early 2000s, yet it was literally the least expensive Windows laptop I could find. It's an incredible amount of computing power for something so small, portable, and inexpensive. If my desktop were to disappear and I was left to compute only on this 100e for the rest of my life, I honestly would not have a problem finding fun and genuinely useful things to do with it every day. The 80's child and 90's teen in me would find this lowly "Winbook" a marvel of science fiction brought to life. A walled garden, hardware crippled, Chromebook this is not, though Lenovo did built them in this same chassis. Nope, this computer that I use around the house and on trips for so many things is a fully fledged, inexpensive, computing platform like the days of yore, except better in almost every way; its manual sucks.
  7. In many cases it's the dark, empty void that sits between you and the software's functionality that's the biggest impediment to understanding and education. People can't be arsed to write any documentation anymore, let alone provide comprehensive practical code examples. But don't worry, the community will docu.. produce 10,000 "hello world" videos and blog posts! Sincerely, A VIC20 Manual Owner
  8. Canadian prices for full sized Pi models have always been higher, but now they don't even make much sense, especially in terms of what's available, which is... Pico - $5.25 3B+ - $48.95 4B 4GB - $68.75 400 4GB - $94.75 That's looking at pishop.ca (formerly buyapi.ca), one of the top online retailers for this stuff in Canada. Would feel like a real kick in the balls to pay $69 for the 4B 4GB, when your project could have done just fine with the 2GB model, but the 3B+ would have been too slow. The crazy part though is that (if they were in stock), they want $60.75 for the 2GB 4B; At that point, you may as well spend the extra $8 to double the RAM whether you need it or not. Even weirder? The stop-gap 1GB 4B isn't in stock either (for it's $47.45 price point, which once was occupied the 2GB model). You'd think that this model would at least be in stock everywhere, given that was its entire purpose for existing. I think the best deal going is the new Pi Zero 2 W. Certainly lots one can do with 4 cores and 512MB RAM for $18.95 CAD (a whole $4 more than the original Pi0W). Too bad there aren't any to buy! The 3A+ is available for $32.95, but you're paying $13 more for the same specs (and, I suppose, the convenience of a full sized HDMI and USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack). Either would work well with BMC64 and RISCOS / BBC BASIC. What's kind of neat with the Pi is that one can use a USB stick for common storage and simply swap out SD cards to easily and quickly boot different operating systems. Could do stuff on "your PET" with BMC64 and then pop in Raspbian to share the work online all in the time it takes to shutdown and reboot. Best of both worlds there.
  9. You make some excellent points. I agree with you completely! Simplicity, functionality, compatibility, and affordability, at the cost of some speed is well worth the trade off. Again, even if it was "as simple" as a Linux machine that turns data into files and then does stuff with the files, it could be immensely useful. Could a 3D printer be considered a plotter? If the computer can generate the data to make a valid STL file, then in this scenario it sure could be! I think one's imagination would be the real limit here. With a Buildroot based setup the boot time would be a couple of seconds and it while still have full networking and GPIO support. It would also have like 40+ years worth of scripting and data parsing software to leverage. People poopoo Linux/BSD/*nix solutions in the retro community, but it's good stuff, truly a living fossil; *nix terminal is just as retro as CP/M!
  10. Here are some general functions that might be helpful. playFromTo(FILENAME, START, END) - Plays part of a file. loopFromTo(FILENAME, START, END, ITERATIONS) - Plays part of a file for a set number of iterations. newSound = genEffect(FILENAME, START, END, EFFECT) - Creates a new sound file from part of a file and applies one of a number of sound effects. applyEffect(SOUND, EFFECT) - Applies a commonly used sound effect, such as reverb, reverse, pitch shifting, fade in, fade out, etc. newSound = join(SOUND, SOUND) - Joins two sounds into one. The from-to format to play different sounds stored in a single file is a concept used by other sound libraries. I don't know how helpful or purposeful it is, but it is "a thing". Being able to rip portions of songs/sounds and using them with joints and effects would allow for nifty stuff such as simulated record scratching or scene based ambience.
  11. The build server is a neat idea. Program on the retro machine in a retro IDE, but pass off the compilation work to the "mainframe". Funny how that workflow is still in use today, yet it is decidedly retro nonetheless. Internet pass through over IEC might be slow, but there's nothing stopping you from using the userport like other networking cards for C64/128. Maybe it would make sense as to build the whole thing as a funky, huge userport cartridge. That would have the benefit of allowing one to use the cartridge slot for normal cart software or something like the Final Cartridge III or the like, unlike the Ultimate II cart. It would also look awesome, like a Neo Geo arcade cart with ports.
  12. Recently my sister unearthed a small savings bond that our mother purchased for me literally 20 years ago, so I decided it was time to put my old 20" Samsung LCD to rest. I had already taken pity upon my children and given them my own 24" Benq GW2470 1080p monitor a couple of months ago. It was just so sad to see my youngest hunched over, leaning in to see while playing My Time in Portia. So, I had myself, like any good dad would, gone back to hunching over and leaning in to see anything on that old work horse of a monitor. Heck being from 2008, that o'l Samsung is probably retro now too! Fun, but my old eyes... So I purchased a 24" Asus ProArt PA248QV monitor that was on sale, because I wanted an IPS screen with decent colour accuracy and I thought the 1920x1200 resolution would be nifty for desktop and art stuff. The colour accuracy is actually kind of important. If you look at the sprite sheet I made for RocketTux, much of it over-saturated, likely due to me over compensating for the dull colours on the o'l Samsung TN panel (don't get me wrong, it still is a nice display). The BenQ has a VA panel and good colour accuracy, though it's bright as bloody hell when set to full sRGB mode (unlike the Asus, which is closer to the rooms ambient lighting when in sRGB mode). Well guess what, fellow retro computing folks, it turns out that this new monitor is actually perfect for using QBasic in DOSBox (in Windows 10)! When running QBasic in full screen on my 1080p monitor there were black bars on the left and right of the screen and the fake scan lines didn't look right. Not so on my new monitor, as it fills the whole screen and the scan lines work perfectly. So now when I do my retro programming, it's like I have some crazy large wide screen flat CRT and a "futuristic" red back-lit keyboard/mouse combo that givesoff Terminator vibes. For a "modern" desktop (my CPU is from 2012...), it sure can feel quite nostalgic. Should plug my WinXP box into it too... hmmm.... Anyway, a 16:10 ratio screen is great for programming with DOSBox! The rambling story was a bonus. Ps. Canada Savings Bonds don't make a lot of sense to me. It took 10 years for that $100 bond to earn a whole $20. One could earn that much in a little over a year just by bumming a nickel once a day. Work two extra hours a year? BAM 10x more earnings! Maybe they make sense if you're buying thousands of them, I don't know!
  13. It's actually not a bad idea. Really, it would be a perfect job for the new Pi Zero 2, which is plenty powerful enough to achieve this functionality using Raspberry Pi OS Lite and some shell scripts. If you made a simple circuit board to plug the Pi02 into then you could have it fit into one of those standard hobby boxes with circuit board front/back panels (like the Colour Maximite 2). Stick an IEC port for the input from a Commodore machine and then outputs for USB, Parallel Port (whatever type(s) for vintage and current dot matrix printers), and perhaps an SD card slot on the front using one of those ribbon cable extender things, and a power switch. Functionally, I think it might be faster to have all of the input from the C= machine be written directly to files and then make use of listener scripts on the Pi that act upon the discovery of new files. For instance, "printing" to device 5 would put the new.pdf file in /var/c5/ and the script would automatically copy it to /var/c5/[DATE]-###.pdf and then display it on the HDMI screen. Printing to device 8 would do the same, but then send it to the configured printer rather than the screen (though it could be set up to email it, view it, upload it to a web server, whatever). Lots of possibilities there and none of it would require much processing power. Could probably do it with an original Pi Zero.
  14. If you do happen to want a minimal Pi Zero Linux system, Jon Wallace has already put one together using Buildroot. It boots in 12 seconds, which is pretty good for Linux. That said, the entire RISCOS desktop boots almost instantly and it comes with BBC Basic, which can be set as the default boot mode. If you just want a BASIC machine, this is the path of least resistance. Sadly RISCOS has poor driver support and it's management is rather opaque, but it and BBC Basic are well documented though, if that's your cup of tea. Also of interest, Graham Sanderson ported the BBC B/Master 128 emulator to the Pi Pico. While "only" an emulator, it does apparently play all the games for the original BBC Micro. Unfortunately it requires a computer to pass keyboard instructions to it over UART, so it's not a practical project. Still nifty that the emulator runs well on the Pico! A bare-metal 8-bit style kernel and software package for the PICO attached to a board that has VGA, 3.5mm audio, USB or PS/2 keyboard, and some kind of joystick port, would be compelling.
  15. I think you're selling that hardware a little short there. Back in the early 2000s I used "Basic Linux" (Slackware 7.1 base on two floppies with custom kernel) on a 25MHz 486SX and it ran all the command line stuff well (X was generally awful back then so I just used Win95 on that machine). A stripped down Linux kernel with Busybox, BASH, TCC, nCurses, SDL, VIM, Emacs, and Nano would utterly fly on that dual core 133MHz ARM CPU and 512MB RAM would be waaay more than enough for programs made in C. FreeBASIC is also available for ARM. I've done a fair amount this with my Pi Zero W over the years, but I put it aside to explore retro stuff. Truth be told, if we're talking command line only, I actually prefer Linux over DOS and 8 bit systems, because it's more capable, extensible, and doesn't require assembly to achieve great performance. It's funny, a few years ago I started work on a BASIC shell for the Linux kernel on the PI Zero, written in C. I didn't get very far before I moved on, but hey, great minds think alike, eh?
  16. VIC20 owners could only be so lucky! I thought I wanted to do this a few years ago, so I bought a C64c, SD2IEC, and Epyx Fastload cartridge. It was nicer to type on than my VIC20 "breadbin", but the key layout was just different enough from my decades of ANSI layout experience to make typing slow and cumbersome. And then, somehow it didn't feel as nostalgic as I thought it would, even though I learned BASIC on a C64c in 1989. Finally, I wasn't adept with assembly, so I was much capable of being creative with my modern PC, using other tools and languages. So I sold all my C64 stuff and kept the VIC20 as a desk ornament. Hit the nail on the head there. There's still a lot of entertainment value and learning to be had with old machines and I keep coming back to the concept for these reasons, but... Honestly, I am not going to live forever and I'm tired of chasing the perfect creative platform. What I have on the PC already works really well... Why do I need something else, something old? Need? I don't. Want? Increasingly, I don't want it either. Yeah... It all seems a little silly now... huh.
  17. Excellent points Tom! Personally, I actually prefer using QBasic (1.1 or QuickBasic 4.5) over other versions of BASIC, especially version 2 for Commodore machines. Code wise, it's just a better experience all around while still being nostalgic. For BASIC, I don't think it's necessary to go full PEEK/POKE everything just to be "true to the spirit of old stuff" or whatever. Maybe that's just me. The machine's capabilities and the tools provided to make content for it are truly what's most important. Who cares if it's compatible with existing machines that anyone can emulate and have been done to death? Like... just go use that stuff, right? Otherwise one could sensibly ask, why use Commander stuff? Especially when there isn't even a Commander machine to own anyway. VERA, cool. The rest of it? Meh... At this point I don't know why I should care; There are already so many other options for BASIC and Assembly programming.
  18. I second GOG! I'm not really a fan of Steam and the games I own are from GOG (though I do own NMS on both platforms). The other three games I have on Steam are Dirt, Black Mesa, and Valhiem. All three have their good and bad points, but I can't recommend any of them when I can't even be arsed to have them installed. Also, Epic Games gives away a free game every week. Some of them are pretty good.
  19. @Yazwho That's a pretty awesome tool for pixel art. I'd never heard of it before. Been using GIMP for at least 15 years, because it was free and included in Linux distros. Looking back, I wish I had bought and learned something like Pro Motion NG. Along those lines, I was window shopping for laptops on the Lenovo Canada site and I found that they actually offer a really good discount on the basic Adobe suite (Adobe Photoshop Elements & Premiere Elements 2021 Bundle). Their $140 CAD is the cheapest legitimate price I have seen, though you do have buy a computer to get it. Still, Dell and HP aren't offering this discount, from what I have seen. I'll pull the trigger on this software if I get a new computer, because GIMP for photos and basically nothing good for Windows or Linux since Windows Movie Maker for Windows 7 has worn me thin. (Openshot is crashy, slow, and did I mention it's crashy? KDEnlive is not for me. The rest are either too complex or too constrained for my basic home video needs - I don't actually like editing videos). Steam sale wise, here are my top 5 game reccomendations: Terraria -50% * No Man's Sky -50% * Hollow Knight -50% Stellaris - 75% Stardew Valley -25% * * = Games I own Far as software goes, I read good things about RPG Maker over the years and RPG Maker MV is on sale for 75% off. At $23 CAD that does put it in the "I won't really feel bad if I never end up using this for anything" category. It looks like a fairly straightforward way to bring one's thoughts to life in RPG form (way easier than Unity, Godot, PyGame, Love2D, and the various JavaScript frameworks like Phaser or PIXI). I've considered buying it a few times, but ultimately I am not super interested in 2D RPGs so I've always skipped it. Though, like the Adobe software and the pixel art program, this is one of those programs I kinda wish I did actually buy years ago, because I probably would have had fun with it / made use of it and been decent at using it by now. Their 2003 version is on sale for a whole $2.19 CAD. That's less than a McDonalds hamburger and would probably last longer too... Thems be my thoughts!
  20. Wha... you... ah... WHAT AM I EVEN LOOKING AT???!!! OK now that IS insane! I mean, judging by how often my wife loses hers, aren't keys like, invisible? And this thing is smaller than a key? I... I just don't understand! lol... Yeah, I totally agree with you there, John. Most of my experience with Python is from the code portion of a game I was working on years ago in Blender Game Engine. Syntax wise it's fine, but white space / indenting for denoting program control is just not cool man. It's not very difficult to scroll through a large Python file and lose track of where you are in the control scheme. Brackets/braces make programs so much more readable and even the CONDITION ... END statements in BASIC, Lua, etc. tie things together nicely. Hell, I would much rather use BASH than Python (and I have, many times!). That said, for small stuff like micro controller code, Python is probably easier than Arduino, and control scripting for other software it's fine.
  21. A few months ago I wrote Geoff Graham, creator of the Colour Maximite, suggesting that they create a version that's built into a handheld in the Sony PSP / Nintendo Switch style form factor. Sadly, he rejected the concept as impossible, stating that the CPU drew too much power to be battery operated. Given the plethora of cheap ARM based devices that emulate the 8 and 16 bit systems running Linux on battery power, I tend to disagree with his assessment, but who am I to argue with an actual engineer. And then today rolled around and I stumbled upon this new device that is similar in concept to a hand held CMM, only its programmed in C++ or Micro Python rather than BASIC! The Pimoroni PicoSystem uses the new Raspberry Pi Pico as its computer, which is a 133MHz dual core ARM Coretex M0+ with 264KB RAM and 16MB of storage and it's attached to a 240x240px screen. It has a piezo speaker for PC speaker type sounds. Those are some interesting specs, eh? If it were a retro machine the RAM, storage, and video would be in line with the mid 80s, but those two 133MHz cores are kind of insane! It's not programmed in assembly, but Python is kind of the new BASIC and C++ is pretty darned old now. Conceivably one could use assembly routines in their C/C++. Programming it requires the bare minimum specs for a PC running Linux (like a Pi Zero!) and a USB cable, so that's nice as well. Very accessible to all. The down side? For some crazy reason they built it with a 1.5" screen! That's insane. 240x240px still looks half decent when stretched up to 6", so it baffles me why they didn't use a 3.5" screen (like the one that came in $45 CAD Powkiddy Q90 handheld). A larger screen would have made their PicoSystem infinitely more usable. I really think they shot themselves in the foot with this, because they could have put the money they spent on the CNC milled aluminum chassis on a screen that could actually be viewed by anyone over the age of 11 and made the body out of plastic like normal people. Anyway, I definitely think the general concept of a hand held for playing retro style games created explicitly for it is a solid idea. Ideally the machine would be able to connect to a larger screen and a keyboard so that the games for it could be programmed using it (as I imagined for the CMM), but I think this Pimoroni PicoSystem is a decent compromise given that it can be programmed using a Raspberry Pi Zero. I would totally buy one for that price and have a blast making games for it, if it they traded the metal chassis for a larger plastic one with a larger screen (4" would be ideal). 1.5" is just too small. It's a really neat, quasi-retro idea they have brought to life! Edit: This system is based on another project of the same concept called 32Blit, which has much higher specs and a screen that should be visible to we old fogies! Sadly, I think they were only available for purchase from a kickstarter that ended earlier this year.
  22. I think it's a valid question from the perspective of the average human being, because from a casual perspective it really does seem like a dead project. One must dig pretty deep into the "who does what and where they're at" details to understand that a handful of people are indeed "doing stuff" at the pace in which it can be done (by them). As @ZeroByte says, a consistent and more frequent status and content update would go a long way towards demystifying the progress, but like the rest of us, David is likely quite busy as it is. I do personally wonder if David et al. have lost their enthusiasm for the project. This has definitely happened to me - I had planned on finishing RocketTux four years ago, but I just cant seem to bring myself to work on it for some reason. When I do sit down, most times my eyes glaze over and I just don't care. No idea why! It's a project entirely of my own design, made entirely for my own amusement, and I like the tools and workflow, so you'd think I would be excited to work on it, but I'm not... Anyway, stuff happens. I get that. It's so strange being a being.
  23. Oh yeah, I totally agree that porting existing software to another platform is a great way to learn. It's just not really all that interesting for everyone else, because they can already use that software on the original platform. Now let's say you port Asteroids to the X16, but instead of a ship shooting asteroids it's a magical butterfly shooting birds that are trying to eat it. The programming would be nearly identical, but flavor would be unique to the platform. That's a nifty middle ground. Probably a decent starting point for a tutorial on how to use the development tools when they're available (whatever they happen to be). The magical butterfly from Paper Mario for the Wii is the vision I had for an X16 mascot. Sadly, it's the magical butterfly from Paper Mario, so that's probably not going to fly, so to speak. What caricature hasn't already been trademarked or copyrighted, eh?! Ultimately people are free (and welcome!) to make whatever they want. No harm in that.
  24. I'd bring my VIC20 out of storage if I could get an 80 column display and memory expansion for it. Just can't live with 22 column BASIC 2.0. It would be neat to make new stuff specifically for/with a VIC20 with a VERA cartridge. PS. Frank, you rock!
  25. I think that from an end user perspective, ports of existing games aren't the least bit interesting, for the simple fact that the originals (and their many ports!) are already so easily accessible. Sure, it may be a fun project for an enthusiastic programmer, but it's hardly compelling content for everyone else. Such is the world we live in, where even a $35 computer can emulate systems that can play thousands of games. So... I think it would be cool if the Commander X16 had its own handful of amusing characters, goofy lore, and whatnot that the community of content creators could build upon. Nintendo has some really neat secondary characters who have whimsical and entertaining game play mechanics, Kirby being the main one who comes to mind, but there are others too. Other platforms have their own mascots and iconic characters too, even the various Linux and BSD distributions. It's "a thing", I guess. Who are your favorites and why? Also, I think it's worth going back and playing the 8 and 16 bit games and taking not of all aspects of their game play that's truly fun and then compiling a list of mechanics and observations that can be distilled down into a simple set of guidelines for what it means to be a "Commander X16 Universe" production. It doesn't have to be strict or anything, just clear so that creators have a well defined starting points. I think this identity is the primary area where the X16 can set itself apart from all the other things. Similarly, a comprehensive set of development tools, from editors to reference art, would greatly assist in the creation of new Commander X16 specific content. I'm definitely on board for assisting in the creation of tools and partaking in the creative process for the characters and lore. Bringing folks who know the physical capabilities/limits of the machine together with the other creative types to build a real vision for what is possible could be a lot of fun.
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