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Everything posted by Tatwi

  1. https://www.retroreversing.com/famicom-nes-development-kit/
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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...
  9. 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...
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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).
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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!
  18. 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?
  19. 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...
  20. We had one of these at some point long after they were new... Or I did... I don't remember exactly, but I do remember holding it... maybe I was really young at time, being vintage 1978 I did arrive after they were on the market. Still, neat!
  21. One of our kids brought COVID home from school for Christmas. I have lots of angry things to say, but I'll just leave it at, I am fully vaccinated and hopefully won't die from COVID. Merry Christmas
  22. I must have said, "oh, that's smart!", six times while watching this video. The switch was a solution after my own heart. Mostly though it really sold me on the capabilities of hobby sized 3D printers - you really CAN make something large out of a bunch of smaller pieces and not have it look weird/gross. Still not going to buy one, but I see the potential now! This two tone design is nice looking and it's cool how it naturally works with the way the printer lays down plastic in "slices". Personally I am not a fan of having that many cuts/lines, because it looks... uncomfortable, but it does have a certain charm. If I made this case I would totally use a red, a green, and a blue button and I'd use one of those SD card slot extension cables to make it available on the right side. Add a power LED and nameplate on the left, just because... maybe a fake cartridge slot to hold my Colecovision Donkey Kong cart... Heh... I bet you 3D printer owners have the itch to use it for everything. I know I would! lol...
  23. If you find the mid 90's to mid 2000's look appealing, a place called http://www.evercase.co.uk/ in the UK still manufactures and sells a bunch of nifty cases. They surprisingly affordable too, if you live in the UK. This one kind of looks similar to the original X16 case (it looks a lot like a thin Dell Dimension Pentium 4 case, but in beige). I am don't know how many expansion card slots the X16 will use, nor if they will be half or full height cards. Anyone else know for sure? @Perifracticto the rescue?
  24. The Pico is only $5.25 vs. $25.99 for a BlackPil, here in Filthy Moose Caboose anyway. Hopefully they stick with this project long enough to fix all its bugs, but from what I have read that doesn't seem to be how they operate. "Good enough. On to the next shiny!" seems to be more their speed and while I completely understand, as Tom pointed out, it's less than ideal for the end users. Still, it's fairly ideal for powering a portable terminal, though so is the $14 Pi Zero W running plain old Debian.
  25. I know exactly what you mean and how you feel. At any resolution, making the step from 2D to 3D requires a university level understanding of algebra/geometry and calculus that doesn't work well with everyone's brain or is simply unenjoyable for people who aren't interested in those subjects. By contrast, low resolution 2D games with sounds and music created from a few square wave channels are manageable by a single person, because the maximum level of detail for each part of the creative process and final production is capped at a level of effort measured in minutes rather than days, hours, or even weeks. 2D pixel art games made with C#/Mono/Unity/JavaScript/etc are popular, because the art and programming are easier for single person or a small group to manage. Ratchet that down to the capability of real 8 bit computers, where colors, sprites, RAM, and CPU speed are also limit, and projects become even more manageable. That's extremely compelling for a hobbyist, because it dramatically increases the likelihood of success while also significantly diminishing the effects of emotional burnout. It's just less work. May 31st, 2017 was when I made the first Git commit to RocketTux, a "simple 2D game" written in JavaScript using two "frameworks" layered on top of each other (Phaser uses PIXI). The actual programming is the easy (mostly enjoyable) part, but everything else, from making the tilemap sections, tiles, sprites, music, tools, data tables, and trying to debug annoying problems caused by changes to the web browser, has been so much honest to goodness work that nearly five years on, I still haven't finished the game. I've certainly had enough time to finish it, but I haven't had the "emotional bandwidth" power through all the work. This has caused me to experience frustration, guilt, depression, anxiety, and even shame over the years. Making the open source game is supposed to be a hobby, something I do for my own amusement, but I didn't intend to be making this one thing for thousands of hours. Ya know? I mean, it's not even that great of a game! Had I made it for the C64, I would have finished it already, because there simply would have been less work to do. In hindsight, that's pretty compelling, even if one must suffer through learning and writing 6502 assembly language, provided one is capable of learning it (I haven't had much success). I'm certainly not downplaying the effort required to plan, design, and complete a game for an 8 bit computer. Heck, even the talented 8 Bit Guy out sources the music production for his games - Time is money limited, friend! It's really just that the possible and the expected levels of detail for 8 bit games are within the bounds of reason for a individual, average hobbyist. Also I'd just like to throw out there that making sound effects and Foley is a bonified occupation! I can't tell you how many hours I spent banging and scratching on things and futzing with Audacity and Sunvox back in 2013 in an effort to produce my own effects for Rescue Girlies. Seriously, it's a lot of work and an artform. So many parts that go into the whole of these modern games are their own disciplines.
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